Drive to stop teenage drownings after River Wear tragedy

Tributes left by the river where Tonibeth Purvis, 15, from Barmston, Washington, Tyne and Wear, and Chloe Fowler, 14, from Shiney Row, near Sunderland, died after getting into trouble.
Tributes left by the river where Tonibeth Purvis, 15, from Barmston, Washington, Tyne and Wear, and Chloe Fowler, 14, from Shiney Row, near Sunderland, died after getting into trouble.
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MORE needs to be done to prevent a repeat of a drowning which claimed the lives of two Washington teenagers.

Safety experts say extra efforts should be made to educate teenagers between 15 and 19 years old who are deemed to be most at risk.

Teenagers Tonibeth Purvis, 15, and Chloe Fowler, 14, drowned in the Wear in July.

Tonibeth, who was from Barmston, was hailed a hero after diving in to try to save Chloe, of Shiney Row, when she got into difficulties.

Despite the best efforts of passers-by, as well as scores of emergency services personnel, the pair drowned. Their bodies were discovered hours later.

The girls’ inquest is due to be held next week. Now, the National Water Safety Forum (NWSF) has said more must be done to prevent drownings despite the 2012 figures published this week showing a fall in the number of deaths.

During 2012, 24 young people aged 15 to 19 drowned, most after getting into difficulties in rivers or at the coast or beach.

Under-19s accounted for 43 deaths (12 per cent), of which more than half were aged 15 to 19.

Di Standley, chairman of the NWSF, said: “One death is one too many, and tragically most of these deaths could have been preventable.

“We work tirelessly to educate and campaign, raising water safety awareness and informing people of how to remain safe and enjoy the water as safely as possible.”

Drowning Prevention Week targets children with water safety messages and will next year run between June 21 and 29.

Di added: “We aim to educate children who are coming up to the age bracket in which most young people who drown lose their lives.

“The summer of 2013 was a terrible time, as we saw more than 30 people drown in the UK during the heat wave over a short period of six to seven weeks.”

For more information on Drowning Prevention Week 2014, visit www.drowningpreventionweek.co.uk.