Water safety warning after Sunderland teenager’s river death

The footbridge at popular beauty spot at Finchale Priory
The footbridge at popular beauty spot at Finchale Priory
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A SAFETY charity today issued a fresh warning after the tragic death of teenager Jordan Roberts.

The 17-year-old’s death comes just over a year after two schoolgirls drowned in the Wear.

Tonibeth Purvis, 15, and Chloe Fowler, 14, died when they jumped into the fast-moving water in Fatfield, Washington, on July 23 last year.

Chloe, of Shiney Row, had entered the water to cool off.

But when she got into difficulty, Washington School pupil Tonibeth, of Barmston, got in to help her best friend.

After the girls were dragged under the water, 100 emergency service personnel conducted a search for them.

Both of their bodies were later pulled from the river.

On the anniversary of their deaths, Tonibeth’s devastated dad Michael, 42, told the Echo he does not want his other children, Michael and Georgia, to go near the spot.

He also hopes that Tonibeth’s tragic death serves as a warning to others about the dangers of entering fast-moving water.

Nathan Davies, water and leisure team leader at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), today said swimmers need to stick to safe spots.

He said: “We understand the temptation to want to go swimming at open water sites.

“But it is important to consider that the water might be a lot colder or deeper than you were expecting and there may be under water debris that you cannot see from the bank.

“With the heat, we often see young people, particularly men, tempted to cool off or jump into open water.

“If you are going to swim at inland water sites then don’t go alone.

“Consider how you are going to get out of the water before you get in, and be honest about your swimming ability.

“By far the safest place to swim is at properly-supervised sites, such as lifeguarded beaches, lidos and swimming pools, although we appreciate that not everyone can get to these locations.”

In May Durham University engineering student Luke Pearce, 19, drowned after falling into the Wear following a night out in the city.

His body was found by members of Durham Amateur Rowing Club a week later.