The mother of a four-year-old boy lost at sea said she has been “destroyed” by comments posted on an internet page apparently pretending to be her son.
Dylan Cecil, from Kettering, was on holiday with his family when he walked on to the jetty in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset, to get a closer look at the sea.
But he slipped off the side and disappeared beneath the muddy water at about 6pm on Sunday.
His parents desperately tried to rescue him, but were unable to reach their son and had to be pulled from the water by passers-by.
His mother Rachel McCollum posted on Facebook: “How low can people be? I tried saving my son and a page (is) set up speaking like they are him.
“I’m distraught he is still missing at sea, I aint slept at all and to find someone pretending to be my son has destroyed me even more.”
She said yesterday that she was “destroyed beyond words – my heart, soul and life ripped apart”.
A Facebook page set up in Dylan’s name has two posts, the first saying: “This is a memory page of Dylan that sadly lost his life, lets show the family we’re thinking of them and sending our love. x.”
A second post reads: “To my mum, my daddy and sisters and sea side grandparents I love you all am in heaven waiting on you all. I’ll be looking down on you :-) x SENT FROM THE RAINBOW AND FLOWERS AND SUNSHINE IN HEAVEN...X.”
The youngster was visiting his grandparents with his mother, father Darren Cecil and two younger sisters, aged one and three.
A growing pile of flowers, cuddly toys and tributes have been placed on the sea wall next to the jetty.
Last night hundreds of candles were lit at the scene in his memory.
Dylan’s grandmother Jackie McCollum, from nearby Brean, said: “He loved coming up to see us, he loved the seaside. He was a bubbly, bubbly, lovely kid. He was our only grandson.”
Her husband David said: “We couldn’t have wished for a grandson any better.”
He added: “I just want to give thanks to everybody who has helped in the search mission and tried to get Dylan back for us. I can’t say thank you enough really.
“We’re all just devastated.”
A large search and rescue operation was launched by the coastguard and police after a member of the public saw Dylan’s parents attempting to rescue him.
But the search for Dylan, who was dressed in a T-shirt and shorts, was called off at 4.30pm yesterday.
Vince Irwin, coastguard sector manager for north Devon, said crews carried out an extensive search of “every area they could think of”.
The waters off Burnham-on-Sea have one of the highest tidal rise and fall ranges in the world and the shoreline is notorious for its dangerous mudflats.
Severn Sector Coastguard manager Tristam Newey said: “The conditions on the jetty are that it would have been impossible to see the edge and that may have led to this accident occurring.
“Certainly, at the time, the water on either side of the jetty was quite deep and, combined with the vast current flow, once you’ve fallen into the water it is very difficult to swim back to shore.”
Mr Newey added that the incoming tide would have been running at between four and five knots.
The scene was cordoned off by police on Sunday night, but reopened yesterday afternoon as the search operation was scaled down.
Supt Keith McCoubrey, of Avon and Somerset Police, said: “There’s not much one can say in such tragic circumstances apart from the fact our hearts and minds and our sympathies are with the family at this time.
“They have been devastated by what has happened, traumatised by the whole incident and have asked that the media respect their privacy at this difficult time.”