The grieving mother of former Wetherby High student Megan Roberts has joined other devastated families in a series of videos about the importance of water safety.
Jackie Roberts came together with Steve Pearson, the father of Tyler Pearson, and Rachel Peatfield, the girlfriend of Ben Clarkson, to describe the ‘horror story’ they are still living with after the deaths of their loved ones in York’s rivers and have urged youngsters to take steps to ensure they stay safe on nights out.
It follows an urgent summit held in March after Miss Roberts, Mr Clarkson, and Mr Pearson, all died after apparently slipping or falling into York’s rivers earlier this year.
Coun Tracey Simpson-Laing, York Council’s cabinet member for homes and safer communities, said a report it had commissioned by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) had highlighted a series of concerns about river safety.
The council was now considering the report’s recommendations, including installing up-to-date lifebelts with floating ropes attached on the River Ouse and River Foss and updating grab rails.
The report is expected to be published next month and will be debated by councillors.
“We do take this as a serious matter,” Coun Simpson-Laing said afterwards.
Yesterday a new safety campaign, which includes the video messages made by the families and a social media campaign, was announced at the press conference aimed at highlighting the dangers.
“It’s that nightmare situation that every parent I suppose dreads,” Jackie Roberts said.
She said she has lost her daughter and a really good friend and it was like being in a ‘horror story’.
“If anything can be learned from this then it really is the looking out for each other, making sure you know how you are getting home, your route home, planning cabs in advance and the drinking you know, maybe we can prevent something like this happening again.”
Ben Clarkson’s girlfriend Rachel Peatfield pleads with revellers in her video: “You have got to think about how you are getting home, just don’t walk home on your own, stay with friends, stay with familiar people.
“If you are not comfortable with something just don’t think oh I’ll be all right just this once’ because you don’t know.”
Mr Pearson said: “I’m broken and cannot see a way forward.”
Julia Mulligan, Police and Crime Commissioner for North Yorkshire, said: “Our collective message today is firmly on staying safe, in particular during and after a night out.
“Make a plan for getting home, avoid the rivers and stick with your friends especially if you’ve had a bit to drink.
“More broadly it is also essential that we do all we can to tackle some of root causes of the problems, in particular the drinking culture.”
l VIDEO available at www.wetherbynews.co.uk