Tyne & Wear

Durham University river deaths: Water safety campaign launched

Sope Peters, Luke Pearce and Euan Coulthard
Image caption Sope Peters, Luke Pearce and Euan Coulthard have all died within the past 18 months

A campaign highlighting water safety is being hosted in Durham following the deaths of three university students in the River Wear in 18 months.

Sope Peters drowned in October 2013, Luke Pearce died in May 2014 and Euan Coulthard was found dead in January. All had been out drinking.

Measures, including the provision of late-night taxis and student wardens have since been introduced.

Now fire chiefs are targeting 16 to 30-year-olds in a week-long campaign.

The events, run by County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service from Monday, will highlight the dangers of low water temperatures, underwater hazards like shopping trolleys and riptides and eddies.

'Tragic accidents'

Andy Bruce, assistant community protection and prevention manager, said: "As we know only too well in this region, water safety is of the highest importance.

"We hope that by highlighting the fatal five dangers during Drowning Prevention and Water Safety Week, we will stress the importance of taking care near inland waterways.

"The events the service has planned also aim to remind young people, in particular, to look out for themselves and their friends to prevent any more lives being cut short in such tragic accidents."

Since the deaths, up to 50 Durham University students have taken up roles as volunteer wardens.

They have received basic life-saving and alcohol awareness training and are equipped with radios, first aid kits, water and blankets.

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