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Jessica Lawson swim death witness tells of 'lovely scene' before tragedy

Published 24/07/2015

Image taken from the Facebook page of Antony Lawson paying tribute to his daughter Jessica, who died in a swimming accident on a school trip to France (Lawson family Facebook/PA).
Image taken from the Facebook page of Antony Lawson paying tribute to his daughter Jessica, who died in a swimming accident on a school trip to France (Lawson family Facebook/PA).

A tourist who was taking a picture of the "lovely scene" of children playing on a pontoon during a school trip has told of her shock when she saw them fall into the water.

Twelve-year-old schoolgirl Jessica Lawson was pulled from the lake at an activity resort in France on Tuesday but died the next day.

She was one of 24 students from Wolfreton School in Hull on the visit to the Club Correze adventure centre in Meymac on a trip which included chances to kayak, sail, mountain bike and go climbing.

Her family have travelled to France to bring their "most beautiful and outgoing girl" back home to the UK.

A Dutch tourist who was photographing the scene said the tragedy had been "a sad accident".

Emma Huismans told The Sun: "I was at the bar looking out on to the lake and it was a beautiful sunny day.

"I saw lots of children on the pontoon and took a picture because it was a lovely scene. A few minutes later there were more children then all of a sudden it flipped over."

Ms Huismans said the incident happened "very quickly" and described how she saw a girl being pulled out of the water 90 seconds later by a lifeguard.

Jessica's father Antony, who paid tribute to his "beautiful loving and kind daughter", shared a short video clip online of the schoolgirl dancing in a kitchen while being followed around by a white dog. He captioned it : "50 seconds of joy that is Jess".

French authorities are investigating the circumstances around the incident, reportedly looking into whether it was an accident or if there was a lack of vigilance among the supervisors at the centre.

The trip was run by the Activ4 tour operator who said they were, together with the owners of the activity centre, working with the local authority and the school to provide any necessary support and assistance.

Jean Valade, the mayor of Liginiac, where the incident took place, said: "The inquiry will look into the cause. It's been 30 years this centre has been open and we've never had an accident like this happen here."

Flowers have been left at Wolfreton School's gates in memory of Jessica.

Her death comes just 10 days after a teenager died during a swimming trip while on a school rugby tour to Canada.

Abdul Jamal Ottun, 17, who went to Wallington County Grammar School in the London borough of Sutton, died at Shawnigan Lake School in British Columbia on July 12.

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