A teenager died a hero but "most importantly" a friend when she tried in vain to save a girl from a fast-flowing river, the rector conducting her funeral said today.
Tonibeth Purvis, 15, from Barmston in Washington, Tyne and Wear, and Chloe Fowler, 14, from Shiney Row, near Sunderland, died after getting into difficulties in the River Wear last Tuesday.
It is thought that Chloe got into the river at Fatfield to cool off during the heatwave and, when she started to struggle in the water, other teenagers went in to help her.
The girls' bodies were found hours after a major rescue attempt was launched by the emergency services.
The family of Chloe Fowler, 14, who died in the River Wear yesterday, have described her as "a beautiful, kind and caring girl" in a statement released by Northumbria Police.
Superintendent Alan Veitch said that Chloe was one of a number of children who attempted to rescue fifteen-year-old Tonibeth Purvis, before she too got into difficulties.
The bodies of both of the teenagers were recovered by police dive teams last night.
Northumbria Police said that the families of two girls who died in the River Wear are "completely distraught at what has happened" and added that officers are doing everything possible to support them.
Northumbria Police said that they believed a number of children tried to rescue one of the girls who died in the River Wear, before a second got into difficulties and died.
Supt Veitch said Chloe, who was from Shiney Row, near Sunderland, got into the water of her own free will.
The officer said the children who survived were traumatised and receiving counselling.
Flowers and messages have been left at the scene where two teenage girls died in the River Wear. Tonibeth Purvis, 15, died trying to save her friend Chloe Fowler, 14, yesterday.
Tributes have been paid to the two teenagers, with Tonibeth, from Barmston, Washington, being hailed as a hero.
Friends of the pair have been laying flowers on the riverbank and paying their respects.
Amy Bell, 13, said: "I knew Chloe, she was a fantastic girl and she did not deserve this at all."
Joss Richards, 13, who was in the same school class as Tonibeth, said: "I'm really devastated that she has gone."
One card left with flowers said: "RIP Tonibeth you are a hero."
Another left for Chloe said: "Heaven has gained a beautiful angel who will be greatly missed."
Friends of Tonibeth Purvis, 15, and Chloe Fowler, 14, who died in the River Wear yesterday, have taken to Twitter to describe their shock at the death of the teenagers.
One user, @Michael_Hall96 wrote: "I'll never step foot in that river again, not taking life for granted anymore!! RIP toni purvis and chloe fowler."
Another, @shannon97xxxxxx wrote: "Can't get over whats happened, rip toni beth and chloe fowlerx."
"Rest in peace Toni-Beth Purvis and Chloe Fowler, rest in peace angels, you will both be such a big miss", @laurenlsmithx, said.
Police have named two teenage girls, whose bodies were found by divers in the River Wear yesterday, as Chloe Fowler and Tonibeth Purvis.
The pair got into difficulty on a fast-flowing part of the river at around 3pm yesterday.
Northumbria Police said enquiries into the incident are ongoing and more information will be released in due course.