River Wear tragedy latest: Police release more details

TRAGIC PAIR ... Chloe Fowler, 14, and Tonibeth Purvis, 15
TRAGIC PAIR ... Chloe Fowler, 14, and Tonibeth Purvis, 15
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MORE details have been released as investigations continue into the deaths of two girls in the River Wear.

The bodies of Tonibeth Purvis, 15, from Barmston, Washington, and Chloe Fowler, 14, from Shiney Row, were pulled from the river last night after an extensive search.

The teenagers had got into difficulties in the river, near Fatfield, just before 3pm yesterday.

Enquiries are ongoing to establish exactly what has happened.

This morning, 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:

“We are aware there has been some speculation about what has happened, but I’d like to emphasise that we are speaking with witnesses to establish exactly what has happened and it’s still too early to determine the circumstances.

“At this stage we believe a group of friends had been at the riverside and two went into the water and the others tried to help, along with members of the public.”

Hundreds of people helped in the search, which carried on until late last night.

Supt Veitch 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.”