The mother of a baby boy who died after allegedly being thrown into a river by his dad said ‘her life has changed forever’.
Emma Blood’s 11-month-old son Zakari was rescued from the River Irwell, in Greater Manchester, on Wednesday.
The child, who was later pronounced dead at hospital, was alleged to have been thrown from a bridge into the water in a Moses basket.
It has emerged a hero police officer Jessica Voiels, 24, was first on the scene and jumped into the river to try and locate the baby.
Ms Blood has now paid a heartbreaking tribute to her son, saying how she is devastated she won’t see her son grow up into a ‘handsome boy’.
She said: ‘On Wednesday afternoon my life changed forever.
‘I woke up that morning being a mummy to the most wonderful cute little boy and by the afternoon Zakari was taken from me in the most tragic of circumstances.
‘Zakari was my life for 11 months and will be the heart of our family for many years to come.
‘He was a cheeky little chappie with a smile that melted hearts.
‘He was the youngest of five generations of our family and was loved beyond belief.
‘Zakari wrapped everyone around his little finger.
‘He was a happy and content baby with a gorgeous little smile and a head full of curls.
‘Everyone that met him fell in love with him instantly.
‘It’s hard to comprehend what has happened and that I will not get to see my baby grow up to be the handsome decent man I knew he would become.
‘My family and I would like to thank everybody for their continued support, it is very much appreciated and would like to ask for privacy at his traumatic time.’
Dozens of floral tributes have been placed by the bridge over the River Irwell.
WPC Voiels was on patrol nearby when she responded to reports of a body in the water on Wednesday afternoon.
She could not find anything in the murky waters and Zakari was later found by firefighters.
In the evening on Twitter, WPC Voiels wrote: ‘Had my worst shift yesterday. I can’t see many things being as bad as that in the future.’
The officer’s mum Julie McCormick told Mail Online: ‘She jumped into the river to try to save the baby – it is awful.
‘Her Sergeant sent her a text saying not many people go through that in a lifetime.
‘They are so proud of her and she has handled it really well.’
A JustGiving page set up to raise money for Zakari’s funeral has now raised more than £4,000.
Detective Inspector Wes Knights said he family have been left ‘devastated’ and specialist officers were supporting them.
The boy’s father Zak Eko Bennett appeared at Manchester Magistrates’ Court today charged with his son’s murder.
He spoke only to confirm his name and date of birth before being remanded to appear at Manchester Crown Court on September 16.