The father of a teenager who drowned in a Birmingham lake criticised West Midlands Police yesterday for disbanding its underwater unit.
Allah Ditta's 19-year-old son Mohammed Nasar died after attempting to save a friend who had got into difficulty in the Brookvale Park lake, off George Road in Erdington, on Sunday.
The 46-year-old butcher who lives in Washwood Heath had to wait 16 hours for the body of his plumbing apprentice son to be retrieved.
Yesterday he said: "I am disgusted that the West Midlands Police underwater team were disbanded last year.
"We had to wait 16 hours for the team from Nottingham to turn up, and when they were here, it only took them about ten minutes to find my son's body.
"Me and my family stayed up all night as we waited for the underwater team to arrive. It was unbearable waiting for 16 hours, with my son lying somewhere on the bottom of the lake, before his body was pulled out."
Mr Ditta also criticised Birmingham City Council's lack of warning signs at the scene and said it was more focused on its temporary beach than saving lives.
"Why couldn't the money they spent on making a beach in the town centre be put to better use like keeping an underwater rescue team?" he asked.
"It doesn't make sense to me. They could have probably saved my son.
"There are hundreds of acres of lakes and ponds in the West Midlands, and miles of rivers and canals. Surely a rescue team is needed more than building beaches for shoppers.
"There are no danger signs put up anywhere, just a couple of little signs saying no swimming.
"Something has to be done about this. Even my local councillor couldn't be bothered to come and see the scene of the tragedy himself."
two of the victim's friends spoke about the incident. Jameel Rafih, aged 19, and 18-year-old Mohammed Usman, said they had been playing football with him, when their ball fell into the water.
Mr Usman jumped into the lake to recover the ball but soon found himself out of his depth.
The victim jumped in to save him but also struggled in the lake. Mr Rafih then attempted to rescue both of them.
"We were petrified, there was no one around to help. We just had to watch our friend die," said Mr Rafih.
Mr Usman added: "If Nasar hadn't got to me when he did, I think I would have died. I was swallowing lots of water, and he kept me afloat until Rafih got me. I can't believe he's dead. I owe him my life."
Yesterday a West Midlands Police spokeswoman said: "Officers attended the scene where fire crews were conducting a search of the water.
"The force helicopter was also deployed to conduct aerial and thermal imaging searches.
"An underwater search team from Nottinghamshire Police was requested, but these officers were already deployed to a separate incident.
"Due to bad light and concerns for the safety of the search teams carrying on in such conditions, the search in Erdington was stopped and then resumed on Monday.
"The body of a male was recovered from the water at 1.50pm."
The family's local councillor Mohammed Idrees (Lab Washwood Heath) said he had visited the family twice and agreed that more needed to be done at the park to highlight the dangers.
He also raised concerns over the lack of a local underwater unit.
"The council needs to learn from this and take the necessary measures," he said. "I have spoken to the West Midlands Fire Service and we are going to talk to the police.
"The police have not got any divers in Birmingham and they had to get them from Nottingham. We are going to raise this with the police and the Home Office."