I am sure you will join me as our thoughts go out to the family of a young man who tragically lost his life. A teenage boy drowned in the Thames on the hottest day of the year Wednesday June 21st. The boy was dragged under by currents as he swam near Hampton Court Palace as temperatures hit 34C. After a 10-minute search, his friends and an off-duty lifeguard pulled the promising footballer’s body on to the bank. Officers, including the marine policing unit, and the lifeboat attended, as well as London’s Air Ambulance and London Fire Brigade boats. Emergency services performed CPR by Hampton Court Bridge, however the boy died when life support was withdrawn. Last year also saw the drowning of 15-year-old Sunbury boy.
We asked Watch Commander Dan Pearson of the Surrey Fire & Rescue Service to share his thoughts “Unfortunately summer is a particularly busy time for Surrey Fire & Rescue Service. SF&RS has two boats in the county based at Sunbury and Walton Fire Stations. The boats are utilised to undertake water rescues, assist the Police with body recovery and to assist Surrey residents during severe flooding. Sadly, summer sees fatalities in various lakes and rivers around Surrey and we are keen to help prevent tragic incidents like these. When we attend a water incident we try our best to enter the water as quickly as possible to carry out a rescue/recovery. Attending these types of incidents can be very distressing, especially when a young person is involved.
I would like to emphasise how dangerous water is. Even in the summer when it is a hot day and the water looks inviting it is still extremely dangerous. The River Thames is a fast-flowing river with lots of under currents which you cannot see from the river bank. Currents which can overcome you even if you think you are a strong swimmer. The temperature of the water is always a lot colder than it may appear (even in the summer.) There are also many hazards underneath the surface of the water which you cannot see; hazards like reeds, branches, tree roots and all kinds of unknown debris. These hazards can cause you to get caught on them and be pulled under the water.
Please remember that water although it looks very inviting, must always be respected – please take a second to think of the consequences of what you are about to do! More information on how to keep you and your family safe around water is available at www.rlss.org.uk.”