A YOUNG army recruit told how he tried to save the lives of Chloe and Tonibeth.
Drew Garnett, 18, of Houghton, was by the river when he heard splashing.
Drew, who is about to become an infantry rifleman, was with girlfriend Jessica Spalding when he saw the girls in the river.
He said: “The current swept them down the river. I shouted to my girlfriend to go and get help. She ran up the bank and I snapped a branch off a tree and went to reach them.
“They were in the centre of the river. One girl had already gone under. One was poking out the water.
“I tried to reach her with the stick but it wasn’t long enough.
“I took one step in up to a foot around my ankles. It still wasn’t long enough, but before I could take a second step she was gone.
“We went up to the main bridge to see if we could see them but we couldn’t.
“It was absolutely horrible to see. I can’t imagine what the families are feeling. I feel absolutely terrible about it.
“I stuck around till 6pm to see if there was anything I could do to help. I just wanted to help, but there was nothing else I could do.”
Drew’s mum Justyn Garnett added: “He went in to try and help. He said he knew if he went any further, the current would drag him under, so he grabbed a branch and threw it to them but neither could grab it.
“He was really shaken up when he got home and couldn’t believe what had happened.”