Half-term outing that ended in tragedy
The body of Aaron Page was recovered from the picturesque River Wharfe, near Bolton Abbey, in North Yorkshire, on Saturday evening after his brother saw him struggling and raised the alarm.
Police said members of the public tried in vain to get him out of the water, which was about 25ft deep, near the footbridge where apparently slipped but the current was too strong.
Aaron, from Pontefract, and his family, had gone to the river for a barbecue to celebrate his birthday.
Yesterday, Aaron's aunt, Tracey Minnet, 45, said: "He was a happy little boy, always up to mischief."
Inspector Kevin Franks from North Yorkshire Police said: "Aaron was out with his extended family, there was quite a lot of them, celebrating his eighth birthday at the Bolton Abbey estate.
"He was seen down by the stepping stones and it would appear he's got himself onto a steep bank where the river is quite deep.
"He slipped off and got himself into difficulty. There is a strong current in that part of the river and he has been dragged under."
The officer added that the family, all from Pontefract, were "in bits" over the tragedy.
A major search was mounted after Aaron disappeared after going into the water at 3pm on Saturday.
North Yorkshire Police the air ambulance, firefighters and an underwater search unit all took part. The Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association was also called.
Aaron's body was discovered by the emergency services at 6.25pm, more than three hours after he disappeared. He was pronounced dead at the scene.