Lucas Dobson: Family calls for lifejacket law after river death

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Lucas DobsonImage source, Chloee Martin
Image caption,
Lucas Dobson was not wearing a lifejacket when he fell into the River Stour

The family of a boy who drowned after falling into a Kent river wants it to be compulsory for children to wear lifejackets on boats.

Lucas Dobson, 6, slipped into the River Stour in Sandwich on 17 August 2019.

His body was found four days later after a large search and rescue operation, involving scores of volunteers.

"I wouldn't want another family to go through this heartache ever," his mother Kirsty Furze said.

Lucas, from Deal in Kent, was jumping between a boat and a pontoon when he fell, an inquest heard. He was not wearing a lifejacket and was swept away by strong currents.

His family gathered at the River Stour to mark the one-year anniversary of his death on Monday.

Image caption,
Kirsty Furze and Donna Kentfield were joined by Natalie Elphicke on the anniversary of his death

Grandmother Donna Kentfield said the loss of the "funny, full-of-life little boy" had left "an emptiness that is overwhelming and indescribable".

"Young lives are so precious and care needs to be taken when little ones are playing by water," she added.

Known as Lucas' Law, it would also require more lifebuoy rings to be installed near rivers.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Search teams scoured the River Stour for four days

In Ireland, children under the age of 16 are already required to wear a personal flotation device while on a boat.

"It's time for the UK to put in place basic life-saving laws to protect young children near water," said Dover MP Natalie Elphicke.

"We are talking about really practical steps, like putting seat belts in cars, like wearing cycling helmets, that can make such a difference to save young lives," she added.

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