River Wear tragedy: Tonibeth Purvis died trying to rescue her friends, say police

HERO'S DEATH ... Tonibeth Purvis died trying to save her friend.
HERO'S DEATH ... Tonibeth Purvis died trying to save her friend.
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TONIBETH Purvis died a hero - trying to save her friends in the River Wear tragedy.

Police have revealed that the 15-year-old, from Barmston, went into the water at Fatfield yesterday afternoon, trying to help teenage pals who had got into difficulty.

A huge search operation was launched, but the bodies Tonibeth and Chloe Fowler, 14, from Shiney Row, were pulled from the river late last night.

Enquiries into the incident are ongoing.

Earlier today, Superintendent Alan Veitch, of Sunderland Area Command, said: “This is an absolute tragedy and our deepest sympathies are with the families of the two girls at what must be a devastating time for them.

“They are obviously completely distraught at what has happened and we’re doing everything possible to support them at this time.”

He added: “This was very difficult for everyone involved and I’d like to thank those who helped in the search, including all emergency services, and all those people who volunteered their services from across the country.

“We’re working to get appropriate support for witnesses, in particular the young people who were with the girls and saw what happened.

“This has been traumatic for them and we’re keen they are able to access support services.

“Although we are investigating the circumstances of this incident, it’s always worth reminding people of the dangers of going into water such as rivers and lakes.

“The River Wear is a fast flowing powerful river with strong currents which can be deceptive and we’d advise anyone not to enter the water.”