Mother of Whitby sea death boy pays tribute

James Willis
Image caption James' mother Paula described him as "popular" and "lovely"

The mother of a 17-year-old boy who died trying to save a teenage girl in the sea off Whitby has paid tribute to her "popular and lovely" son.

James Willis, originally from Stockton, died after being swept out to sea on Wednesday.

He and two other girls who got into difficulties were patients at St Nicholas Hospital in Gosforth, and were on a seaside trip.

His mother Paula Willis said she was "devastated" by the tragedy.

"James was a lovely, popular boy and will be sorely missed by all his family and friends.

"I am completely devastated by this tragic accident and I am trying to come to terms with his loss, " she said in a statement.

Inquest adjourned

An inquest into the death was opened and adjourned in Scarborough on Friday.

The hospital where the teenager was a patient is a medium secure psychiatric forensic unit for youths.

The unit cares for 14 to 17 year olds who have either come into contact with the law as a result of their mental health issues or are a risk to themselves or others.

Dr Suresh Joseph, medical director for Northumberland, Tyne and Wear Mental Health Trust, said there had been four members of staff supervising the three teenagers on the trip.

RNLI members, who tried to save James, thought he had managed to pull himself to safety using a ladder on the pier wall, but he had returned to the water to help his companion.

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