Family 'devastated' as schoolgirl, 15, becomes Storm Ellen's second victim after she was swept away in swollen river

A 15-YEAR-OLD girl is the second person to die during Storm Ellen after she drowned in a river in Cardiff, leaving her family "devastated."

Schoolgirl Nicola Williams had been playing with friends on the banks of the River Rhymney in Cardiff when she fell into the fast-flowing water.

A friend jumped in to save her but she was carried away – and it took emergency services an hour to find her on the twisting river alongside the Cardiff University sports fields.

The alarm was raised and a huge fleet of emergency services rushed to the river bank at Llanrumney, Cardiff, including police, coastguard, paramedics and firefighters.

Search boats and helicopter were also deployed and Nicola was pulled from the water after an hour long hunt.

In a statement released by South Cardiff Police, they said: "We were called at 5:20pm to a report of a girl in the river in Ball Lane, Llanrumney.

"We attended with a number of other emergency services and the police helicopter.


"At about 6:40pm a 15-year-old girl was located and despite the best efforts of emergency services she sadly passed away."

Her family were described as "devastated" at the tragic drowning on the riverbank – a popular spot for dog-walkers near the Rumney rugby club.

Friends and family paid tribute to Nicola – with one friend writing: "Can’t believe what’s happened. I love you so much I will see you again soon."

Another said: "RIP beautiful. Will be missed by loads. We all love you and we always will.

"You were taken to soon. Heaven has gained another angel."

Storm Ellen claimed its first victim yesterday after a man in his 50s died after being pulled from waves off the Cornish coast.

A huge search operation was launched just before 2pm yesterday afternoon as the storm – the worst since Dennis in February – battered the UK.

It followed reports that a man and a teenage boy were in difficulty in the sea at Loe Bar at Gunwalloe, at the far tip of Cornwall.

The coastguard helicopter, air ambulance and ground 999 teams were scrambled to help in the rescue mission.

Police said both father and son – thought to be on holiday from London – were pulled from the sea and the boy was taken to Treslike Hospital at Truro.

It comes as the storm has caused destruction all over the country.

More than £120,000 wort of damage was caused by trees falling onto cars at the luxury Welsh resort of Portmeirion.

And about 20 beach huts were pulled from the sand at Woolacombe as unheard of high tides left them bobbing near the shore.

Strong winds which battered parts of the UK are expected to ease today following disruption to coastal areas and warnings from emergency services.

But while Storm Ellen may finally start to let up, it seems that the summer heat could be gone for good.

The Met Office said an "unsettled" outlook was expected with temperatures below average for the time of year.

And kayaker James Watts helped save a number of youngsters from the sea at Maenporth near Falmouth in Cornwall on Thursday after a strong rip current.

Eleven people in total were rescued and James helped eight youngsters who were being swept out to sea by a large swell – he heard their screams and got them back to their parents.

In London a man was knocked unconscious by a falling sign at Kentish Town Underground station – possibly linked to the windy weather.

Witnesses reported seeing him being treated by medics before being rushed to hospital.

PS Dave Pearce, Response Sergeant for the Truro D Section, called on people not to enter the water over the next couple of days.

"The sea conditions coupled with spring tides and high winds make things so dangerous."

As Storm Ellen battered Britain's staycationers, coastguards and the RNLI pleaded with tourists to stay away from exposed beaches and rocky outcrops.

They said people venturing out on to sandbanks and hard-to-reach headlands at low tide to get spectacular selfies in the stormy weather should beware – they could get marooned and drown.

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