Abbie Walton, a 15-year-old schoolgirl also known as Habiba Sharafeldin, tragically drowned in the River Etherow near Broadbottom, Tameside, during an outing with friends on June 14. An inquest into her death revealed that Abbie and two friends encountered trouble when they ventured into deeper water where they couldn’t touch the bottom. While her friends managed to escape, Abbie was unable to resurface and was not seen again after going under.
The emergency response to the incident was substantial, involving a fire service boat, a drone, underwater cameras, and several rescue personnel. Despite a prolonged search effort lasting around ninety minutes, Abbie was eventually found near the spot where she had disappeared but could not be revived, reported Manchester Evening News.
Detective Inspector Clare Harrison from Greater Manchester Police explained that the tragedy seemed to result from the group underestimating the depth of the water. The inquest heard that they initially entered a shallower area before unknowingly moving to a deeper part where they struggled to maintain their footing.
The senior coroner, Alison Mutch, ruled the death as accidental, noting that Abbie likely drowned quickly after she was last seen. Mutch praised the efforts of the children present for doing their best under the circumstances, despite difficulties in getting help due to poor phone signal and the remote location.
Abbie, a pupil at Copley Academy, was remembered fondly by her family for her bright and bubbly personality. In statements, her siblings shared touching memories of her. Kylie, her eldest sister, remembered Abbie’s constant smiles and excitement, while Claire and Nicola recalled her liveliness, humor, and love for TikTok, fake tan, and butterfly lashes. Her brother Daniel described her as the ‘personality’ of the family, always lively and unbothered by others’ opinions. Abbie was eagerly looking forward to her school prom, a topic she often excitedly talked about.