Teenager dies after High Force waterfall swim

Curtis Atherton Image copyright Durham Police
Image caption Curtis Atherton was airlifted to hospital but later died

A teenager has died after getting into difficulties while swimming under a County Durham waterfall.

Curtis Atherton was swimming with his brothers and friends beneath High Force in Middleton-in-Teesdale on Tuesday.

The 16-year-old, from Hartlepool, was recovered from the water by a fire brigade rescue boat and airlifted to hospital but later died.

Police said the five other teenagers - three boys and two girls - who had been in the water were not injured.

High Force, where the River Tees plunges 65ft (20m), is one of County Durham's most popular tourist destinations.

'Unknown currents'

Police, fire crews, air support, and mountain rescue volunteers carried out a search of the area after the alarm was raised at about 20:00 BST.

The teenager was located some time later, and treated at the scene by paramedics before being taken to Middlesbrough's James Cook Hospital.

Image copyright Carolyn Farthing-Dunn
Image caption High Force is one of County Durham's most popular tourist attractions

Det Insp Andy Crowe said: "This is a devastating incident and a stark reminder of how a fun afternoon swimming with friends can end in tragedy.

"Curtis's family would like to thank everyone involved in the efforts to locate Curtis yesterday evening."

Pete Bell, from Teesdale and Weardale Mountain Rescue Team, said: "Unfortunately these bodies of water are magnets for people when the weather is good, but despite the air temperature being warm the water is still cold and there are unknown currents. Even the best swimmers can find themselves in difficulty.

"We would urge people not to go into the water at High Force because the risks are considerable."

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