This is the first picture of a tragic baby boy who died after he was allegedly thrown into a river just weeks before his first birthday.
Grief-stricken mum Emma Blood said she held and kissed her 10-month-old son Zakari (Zak) “for hours” in hospital after he was rescued from the River Irwell in Radcliffe, Greater Manchester.
The 22-year-old mum described her little boy as “my world, my heart, my soul” on her Facebook profile, where she told friends of her final moments with her boy, writing: “I wish I was dead instead.”
She said she did not know Zak was dead until she arrived at A&E less than three hours after the alleged murder.
A 22-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in police custody for questioning.
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Horrified witnesses said the baby was thrown into the river in a Moses basket from an area around a bridge.
Witnesses said the suspect was arrested at the Lock Keeper pub nearby.
The baby had been in the area “for a number of hours” before the incident, according to police.
Heartbroken Ms Blood wrote on Facebook that she was not present when the incident happened at about 4.30pm on Wednesday.
She wrote: “I didn’t know anything that had happened until 7pm tonight [Wednesday].”
She added: “I love my little boy and did everything for him.
“I didn’t know my child was dead until I got to A & E.
“We sat with him for hours, we held him, we kissed him.”
Ms Blood hit out at people who have been speculating over her baby’s death and trolls who have been posting hurtful comments online.
She added: “I am alive, although I wish I was dead instead.
“Let me grieve for my child, my whole world and so much more.”
Flowers and other tributes – including stuffed animals, candles, cards and a chocolate orange – were placed on a bridge over the river as police remained at the scene on Thursday.
Ms Blood had excitedly announced her pregnancy in February 2018, when she wrote on Facebook: “I honestly can not hold back anymore, we are over the moon that we are expecting a baby.”
She later wrote following her first scan: “Today we seen our little baba who has a very strong heartbeat, healthy and is perfect in every single way.
“Mummy & Daddy love you always our little cherub.
“The past ten weeks have flown by it won’t be long until we meet you in person.”
She announced Zak’s birth in October last year, posting a selfie with the infant in hospital and writing: “He’s just so perfect and so good.
“He was worth every bit of pain. We love you Zakari.”
Zak would have turned a year old on October 16, according to his mother’s Facebook page.
A JustGiving page set up to pay for Zak’s funeral costs had raised more than £1,900 as of Thursday morning.
The page read: “Today sadly a local little boy was thrown in the river Irwell.
“This evening he has passed away and we would like as a community to raise money towards his funeral.”
Police were called to reports that a child was in the River Irwell shortly before 4.25pm on Wednesday.
A witness told the Manchester Evening News: “It was a very small child in the river.
“I thought it was a doll when I saw it.
“I thought someone was on the run.”
The boy was recovered from the water by firefighters and rushed to hospital, where he died a short time later.
A 22-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody for questioning, said Greater Manchester Police.
Police have not confirmed the name of the man arrested, who a witness said was arrested inside the Lock Keeper pub.
A witness said: “He asked ‘could he sit in the corner’ but he had no money.
“Staff said that was totally fine as people do that, and then loads of people came in saying ‘oh my god there’s a baby in the river’.
“Everyone was up barring him, he sat there and stared and didn’t move.
“The police were phoned to say ‘we think we have who you’re looking for’.”
The pub was closed following the incident.
A Greater Manchester Police spokesperson said on Thursday: “Emergency services – including the police helicopter – immediately attended and the baby boy was retrieved from the water and taken to hospital.
“The boy, who is believed to be approximately 11-months-old, sadly died a short time later despite the best efforts of paramedics and specialist doctors.
“A Home Office Post Mortem will take place tomorrow (Friday).
“A 22-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder and remains in custody for questioning.”
Police have asked people to submit any photos or video clips that could assist the investigation, saying there was a “significant number” of witnesses in the area at the time.
Detective Inspector Wes Knights said: “This is an incredibly tragic incident which has taken the life of a baby boy, who we believe is only around 11-months-old.
“His family have understandably been left devastated by what has happened and we have specially trained officers providing them with support at this difficult time.
“We currently have a suspect in custody, who will be questioned by detectives later today, however our investigation does not stop there and we need anybody with information to come forward and help us get answers for this little boy’s loved ones.
“We know that there were a significant number of witnesses to what happened and I want to urge those people to come forward and provide us with as much detail as they can.
“It’s also possible that other people may have information about the circumstances leading up to the incident, as we know the baby had been in the area for a number of hours beforehand.”
He added: “We appreciate that the incident has caused a lot of concern locally, which is understandable, but I would ask that people please refrain from speculating on social media about the circumstances and who may or may not have been involved, as this is still a live criminal investigation.
“I would also like to say thank you to all those people who tried their best to help retrieve the baby from the river and to all those who have since provided support to the investigation by providing information.”