FRIENDS of Kyrece Francis described the moment they tried to rescue him after he got into trouble swimming in the River Thames at Marlow at an inquest today.

The 13-year-old was playing in the river with pals from Great Marlow School on the first day of the summer holidays when he got into difficulty trying to swim to an island.

Two of his friends tried in vain to bring him back to the shore after he struggled to reach the island but were unable to hold onto him.

One of his friends, named at the inquest only as Nathan, said it was common for the group to play in the river and swim across to the island.

But he admitted he was surprised to see Kyrece attempt to get across.

In a statement read to the inquest by DC Tim Robbins, Nathan said: "We all like to swim to the island - it's quite common for us to swim to it.

"All 11 of us were in the water. We were quite surprised when Kyrece came in as well."

He said: "Three quarters of the way out Kyrece stopped. I shouted, 'Don't stop, Kyrece' but he said, 'I can't go any further'.

"We swam out to him. Kyrece was grabbing at me, holding me under. He was standing on my shoulders at one point.

"I kept trying to get him back but he was dragging me, and the current was dragging us along."

The inquest heard by the time emergency services arrived at the scene, near Marlow Rugby Club, Kyrece had been in the water for at least ten minutes.

Kyrece's body was found 22 metres from where he was last seen by a search and rescue team. DC Robbins said: "I'm told it wasn't a particularly strong current that day, but it can be deceptive underneath the surface."

Since Kyrece's death friends have launched a fundraising campaign to pay for signs and safety equipment along the Thames in a bid to prevent similar tragedies. It has so far raised over £12,000.

Coroner Richard Hulett recorded a verdict of death by misadventure.