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Boys found dead near cliffs were 'having a laugh' when they fell

The Guardian logo The Guardian 28/03/2017 Helen Pidd North of England editor
Harry Watson, left, and Alex Yeoman. © Cleveland police Harry Watson, left, and Alex Yeoman.

The teenage best friends who fell from cliffs in Teesside were “having a laugh” and taking photographs when they fell, one of their mothers has said.

Harry Watson and Alex Yeoman, both 17, died on Friday night after apparently falling from Huntcliff in Saltburn-by-the-Sea, a seaside resort in north-east England.     

A coroner will rule on how the pair fell to their death but Harry’s mother, Tanya Watson, believes it was “a tragic, awful accident”.

The boys were happy and in a good frame of mind, she said, as their former school paid tribute to “two lovely young men, who had so much to live for.”

Tanya Watson told the Times: “It was an accident, a tragic, awful accident. They were happy young lads who had been friends for years. Harry was in a good frame of mind and I know Alex well and he was, too.

“They were two lads who liked to be outdoors and they would go walking on the cliffs, that’s what they loved to do. They grew up around here and they knew the area very well … it’s something they had always done for as long as they had known each other.

“They have been having a laugh together and taking some photographs as they liked to do when for some reason they slipped and fell. There is no suggestion of anything else. We’re just trying to come to terms with it, but it’s very, very hard.”

Freeburgh academy in Brotton, where the teenagers had gone to school, issued a statement mourning the former students: “We are both shocked and saddened by the devastating news that two of our ex-students, Alex Yeoman and Harry Watson, tragically lost their lives on Friday 24 March 2017. Our first thoughts are with their families and friends at this difficult time.

“We are a very close-knit community so the devastating loss of these two lovely young men, who had so much to live for, will have a huge impact on both students and staff. They were both very positive members of our school team and we have very fond memories of them. Our on-site counsellors and pastoral team will be available to offer support to students and staff.”

Cleveland police were called shortly before 7pm on Friday to a report of a body at Huntcliff. Officers and the coastguard attended the scene and found the bodies of the two boys.

Inquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident.

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