Ayan Shah ran off while mother Naziea Khan, 25, had her back turned on a walk to visit his father. He was found 20 minutes later face down in a 6ft deep stretch of the Leeds-Liverpool canal at Pit Top park in Burnley, Lancashire by a community support officer.
She and her colleagues jumped into the water, pulling Ayaan to safety and resuscitating him as he lay unconscious on the canal bank. His mother was heard screaming ‘Is he dead? Is he dead?’ and her husband, Sadiq Shah, 26, was seen in tears, repeating his son’s name.
Ayaan was flown by air ambulance to the Royal Blackburn Hospital and later transferred Manchester Children’s Hospital where he is in a critical condition. Ayaan’s aunt, Yasmeen Khan, 27, said the family were ‘devastated’ by what had happened. She said: ‘Ayaan is such a handsome little boy. We are just praying that he pulls through.’ She described Ayaan’s mother’s reaction at the scene: ‘When they found him in the water she was just screaming over and over. She’s really suffering at the moment.’
Yasmeen Khan said the young female PCSO who found Ayaan was ‘trembling’. She added: ‘She was very brave and if Ayaan does recover she will be a hero in our eyes.’ The PCSO who rescued Ayaan stripped off her heavy police vest and equipment and jumped into the water up to her neck.
‘Devastated’: Ayaan’s family say they are ‘just praying’ that he will pull through after the accident. Local resident Natalie Tester, 27, helped with the search. Miss Tester said: ‘The mother came up to us and seemed frantic. ‘She said that she had been talking to a relative and when she looked away for a split second, little Ayaan had vanished. ‘She thought he must have headed home, but when he wasn’t there she started panicking.’
Det Insp Marie Haworth from Lancashire Police said: ‘We are trying to establish how this little boy sadly ended up in the canal.’ “This is a tragic incident and we’re working hard to piece together exactly how this toddler has come to be in the water. ‘It is obviously an extremely difficult time for the family and we have specially trained officer there to support them.’
Ayaan is currently in a critical condition, with fluid on his brain, and is likely to remain in intensive care for the next few days. His parents were at his bedside last night. (DM)