Julie Walker, 37, and Lucas Walker, six, from Aberdeen, were part of a group who got into difficulties in the water on Saturday afternoon.
Emergency services were called at around 4:45pm and a major operation was launched off the city’s Beach Esplanade, with five people pulled from the water and taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. Ms Walker and Lucas later died in hospital.
Police Scotland yesterday paid tribute to Ms Walker’s son, Samuel, who “bravely” entered the water in an attempt to save his mother and brother. The 13-year-old was pulled from the water along with a 28-year-old man and a 25-year-old woman who were also trying to save Ms Walker and Lucas.
Samuel remained in hospital yesterday where he was making a “steady recovery,” according to police. The man and woman were also taken to hospital, but have since been discharged.
Police said the “heroic attempts” by members of the public and emergency services took place a time when the sea conditions were “treacherous”.
Chief Superintendent Campbell Thomson, north-east divisional commander, said: “This is a very tragic incident and our thoughts are with the Walker family at this sad and difficult time.
“Whilst officers continue to investigate the circumstances of the incident, it is clear heroic attempts were made to save Julie and Lucas by both on and off-duty police officers, emergency service personnel and members of the public, facing treacherous sea conditions and high winds during their rescue bid. Their brave efforts cannot be overstated.”
He added: “I’d like to pay special tribute to Lucas’s brother Samuel, who very bravely entered the water in an attempt to rescue his mother and brother. We are all very thankful Samuel is making a steady recovery in hospital.”
Onlookers described the deaths as “heartbreaking” and “devastating”. Emma Anderson, 25, who was visiting the beach with her family, said: “I saw what looked like a small child floating in the water – I am absolutely devastated.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was among those paying tribute. She tweeted: “Tragic, heartbreaking news. My thoughts are with all those involved.”
Chief Supt Thomson warned members of the public to take care near water, with “conditions changing rapidly” .