Family pays tribute to 13-year-old ‘little professor’ found dead in river Taff as details of painstaking efforts to save him emerge

The family of a 13-year-old boy who was found dead in the Taff River on Tuesday said “there will never be a day we don’t remember him”. Aryan Ghonia was found in the river at 5.45 pm near Melingriffith water pump in Whitchurch after a massive emergency services operation was launched to find him.

Some left balloons, tributes and flowers for Aryan under the bridge on Wednesday afternoon. Specialist police have also been deployed in the area after the incident.

At around 4.45 pm on Tuesday, emergency services were reported missing children and a boy in the Taff River near Forest Farm Road. Police, paramedics, the fire service and lifeguards were all involved in the search, which reportedly involved a helicopter that flew “very close to the ground” according to residents. Aryan was found an hour later and could not be saved.

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A family statement issued on Wednesday said: “Our family is devastated by Aryan’s tragic death, but we are impressed by the way the community, including the police and other emergency services, is trying to support us. Aryan was our little professor – brilliant in mathematics and an all-rounder.

“He was very academic with a warm and loving personality. There won’t be a day that we don’t miss him.”

13 year old Aryan’s friends left tribute
(Image: Meczyki News Service)
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Aryan was reportedly with his friends when he went missing on Tuesday afternoon
(Image: Meczyki News Service)

A tribute at the scene read: “You never know when you will last see a place or person. There will always be a place in our hearts for you.” Another letter read: “You will all be greatly missed, you never fail to put a smile on our faces and you will always be in our hearts.”

Police were blocking access to a footpath near the spot on Wednesday afternoon as the police diving team had to launch further investigations. Samantha Camilleri, who lived in Whichchurch for most of her life, recalled Tuesday’s incident: “Sirens were constantly sounding and I immediately realized they were looking for someone. The helicopter came very close.”

She said: “Everyone here knows each other and it will be a huge blow to the community. Those poor parents too – absolutely heartbroken.” For more Cardiff news sign up for our Cardiff newsletter here.

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Special Investigation Unit on the spot at lunch time on Wednesday
(Image: Meczyki News Service)

Another woman who lived near Forest Farm Road, where emergency services were initially deployed before the water was moved to the pump, said she initially thought the incident was caused by a “huge amount of firefighting”. There was fire. He continued: “It was quite clear that something very serious had happened.”

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Tributes left for Aryan on the spot on Wednesday
(Image: Meczyki News Service)

The pages of United Labor councilors from Whitchurch and Tongwinlais paid tribute to Aryan. He added: “Our hearts are with the family and friends of the 13-year-old boy who has died. It is clear that there was a rapid and significant response from emergency services and we await further details.”

According to the National Water Security Forum, there were 26 accidental drowning deaths in Meczyki in 2021 in inland and coastal locations. There were 25 in 2020. It is the second river death in South Meczyki in less than a month, after the body of Ken Edwards, 13, of Morriston, another 13-year-old, was found in the River Tawe, near Swansea Enterprise Park. 24 May.

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Under the footbridge next to the water pump in Whichchurch, where Aryan was found
(Image: WellsOnline / Rob Brown)

On Tuesday evening Detective Inspector Abi Biddle said: “Today, Tuesday 21 June at 4.45 pm, a report of children was found and a boy was missing in the Taff River near Forest Farm Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff. An extensive search was carried out Police, Fire, Ambulance, Coast Guard and Police Helicopter.

“The missing 13-year-old boy was found in the river around 5.45 pm and despite the efforts of emergency services, was unable to revive him. The boy’s family has been informed and they are being supported at present. The HM coroner has been informed and the circumstances of the incident are under investigation.”

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