Canal-death couple ‘kept their relationship secret’

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A young couple who died in a canal lock kept their relationship secret from their families because of their different backgrounds, friends of the teenagers said.

Sara Rylance, 17, and Fayz Uddin, 18, died in hospital after being pulled from the lock, near Brasshouse Road in Smethwick, West Midlands, by emergency services on Wednesday night, West Midlands Police confirmed.

Speaking at the scene of the incident yesterday, close friend Yasmin, 17, said: “Fayz was just the most amazing guy and Sara was the strongest and most determined girl.

“I had known Fayz since we were in Year Six at school together and I can’t believe he has gone, I am still in shock.

“They were a couple but obviously because of the general circumstances and different backgrounds they kept it quiet.

“Because of his family they couldn’t really say much but they really did like each other, I knew that.”

A female friend of Miss Rylance, who asked not to be named, said: “I just keep looking at the edge of the path and thinking, ‘What were they doing walking so close to the water? What were they thinking?’ I can’t believe what has happened.

Police refused to confirm reports that the teenager had been trying to save her boyfriend after he fell in the canal.

A spokeswoman said: “Police are trying to establish the circumstances surrounding the incident and we are investigating the sequence of events which led up to the deaths.

“However, at this stage it is looking like a tragic accident.

“Officers have notified both families and are supporting them at this time.”

On a tribute page set up on social networking website Facebook, one friend posted: “Your death was so sudden. We are so proud of you for trying to save the one you love, it takes great strength and courage. Well done baby girl. We all love and miss you so much. Your a great girl and wont be forgotten any time soon. Love you.”

Another posted: “Still cnt beilive that you’re gone.. i miss you soo much :’(, i txt you yesterday but had no reply but i never thought tha would be the last time. tragic accident its soo unreal.. you’ve always been there for me.. you were an amazing friend, you had a great personality, you was the most understanding person, i used to tlk to u about anything and everything.”

Mr Uddin had completed a one-year course in information technology and business at Halesowen College last year.

Yesterday Principal Keith Bates paid tribute to the former student.

“I extend my deepest sympathies to both families after the tragedy,” he said.

He said the college would be putting measures in place to help to support any students who were affected by the death of the teenagers.

Floral tributes were left at the scene and thrown into the water at the lock yesterday.

A card on one bouquet read: “To Sara RIP. God Bless. Love Aunty Jean, Uncle Rody, Vicky, Kay and Lisa. xxxx”