Plans drafted to improve riverside safety after student deaths

Police from the Marine Unit were called in after the body of Durham University student Euan Coulthard was found near Framwellgate Bridge in January.
Police from the Marine Unit were called in after the body of Durham University student Euan Coulthard was found near Framwellgate Bridge in January.
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A HOST of recommendations have been drafted up with the aim of preventing further deaths along the River Wear after five deaths sparked action.

A review of the river banks in Durham was commissioned by RoSPA by the city’s safety group, which has already set up a host of projects and made improvements along the waterside.

Now we have RoSPA’s findings we will produce an action plan that will include what will happen and when, including any work to footpaths and railings and a decision on lighting.

Terry Collins, chairman of Durham City Safety Group

It was launched following the deaths of Hayley Brown, 25, in July 2010, Durham University students Sope Peters in October 2013, Luke Pearce, 19, in May last year, Euan Coulthard in January, and William Grant, 67, from Cleadon, in February.

Alcohol had been consumed by Hayley, Sope and Luke, with the inquest still to be heard into Euan’s death.

Mr Grant’s inquest is also still to be held, but a provisional post mortem examination established he died after he was immersed in water and was suffering from heart disease.

Among the findings were barriers could be improved in locations; the group should put together a policy about lighting of riverside pathways; clear signs should be put in place; slips and trips should be reduced by improved maintenance and the next stage should be to build on the work involving students.

Bars should also be asked to ensure their outside spaces are risk assessed and measures such as fencing are in place.

The Wednesday Safe Haven pilot, should be reviewed, while the university’s alcohol policies should be reviewed and education schemes to be aimed at students.

Terry Collins, chairman of the safety group said: “Now we have RoSPA’s findings we will produce an action plan that will include what will happen and when, including any work to footpaths and railings and a decision on lighting.”