A carer jumped into an icy cold canal in a bid to save a drowning disabled man but they both tragically died it has emerged.

Aaron Ritchie, 49, fell into the water in Wigan, Greater Manchester, yesterday, with temperatures in single figures. His carer, a 60-year-old man who has not been named by police, is believed to have heroically entered into the canal to try and save him.

But Greater Manchester Police said that both men were pulled from the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Crank Wood, a beauty spot in the Abram area of the town, and later died in hospital. It is believed they had been walking at the time and Aaron, who had special needs, fell in.

His carer has not been named but his next of kin have been informed of his death, police said. In a statement released by the force, Aaron's heartbroken family said: “It's come as a complete shock to us as a family surrounding the tragic accident of what happened on Tuesday afternoon.

"Aaron was a loveable character who made a big impression on everyone who knew him. Aaron had special needs and he loved the outdoor life and as long as he had his puzzles, laces and spinning tops he was happy. Aaron is surely going to be missed by us as a family. We would like to pass on our sincere condolences to his carer's family and a special thank you to the emergency services who attended trying to save them."

The full statement from the police read: "At approximately 2.15pm yesterday (Tuesday 28 November 2023) emergency services were alerted to the presence of two males who had entered the water at Crank Wood canal, Abram, and came into difficulty. The men were retrieved from the water by specialist personnel in a multi-agency emergency response.

"Life-saving intervention was conducted by medical staff however sadly both males tragically passed away later in hospital. The next of kin of Aaron’s carer, a 60-year-old man, have been informed of his death. Their deaths are not being treated as suspicious and police are continuing to establish the circumstances behind their deaths. A scene remains in place at the canal."