Friends of Ipswich girl who died at Orwell Bridge release balloons into the air to mark what would have been her 18th birthday
- Credit: Su Anderson
No-one else should have to lose a loved one in this way.
This was the poignant message from a group of friends who gathered below the Orwell Bridge yesterday to mark what would have been Weronika Stepien’s 18th birthday.
Balloons marked with messages of love and friendship were released into the air and into the River Orwell in the area where Weronika fell to her death in December last year.
Weronika, who attended Ipswich Academy, is one of more than 40 people to prematurely lose their life at the Orwell Bridge since it opened in 1982.
The East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star have launched a campaign calling on highways authorities to restrict pedestrian access to the bridge in a bid to prevent further tragedies.
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One of Weronika’s best friends, Tiffany Loveridge, who organised the birthday tribute, said more needed to be done to improve safety for pedestrians on the bridge.
The 17-year-old added: “There are too many people dying on that bridge and it needs to be made safer so no-one else has to lose their loved ones.
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“It should be shut off to pedestrians. People say if someone wants to take their own life they will find other ways, but they shouldn’t be able to do it so close to home and it shouldn’t be so easy to access.”
Weronika moved to Ipswich from Poland with her family during high school, and Miss Loveridge was one of her first close friends.
“She loved exploring, eating junk food, spending time with us and her family, going on road trips,” she added.
“We went on a road trip to London once and her face just lit up when she saw the London Eye.
She brought plastic cups and Coca Cola for us to all share, she was really close with her friends.
“It is difficult carrying on without her. At night I can’t sleep as much as I used to.”
Jade Mayes, 17, said Weronika’s death had left a big hole in the lives of her many friends.
“She was a big part of all our lives,” she added.
“Weronika was loving and caring and always there whenever you needed someone to talk to and she was always smiling – such a happy person.”