'I just want something to be done' - Call for action to stop Orwell Bridge tragedies

Pictured from Just 42 is Caroline Rutherford. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Caroline Rutherford, who has started a petition calling for improvements at the Orwell Bridge - Credit: Gregg Brown

Dozens of people have lost their lives at the Orwell Bridge since it opened in 1982, though recently there appears to have been an increase in incidents of people in distress there.

The most recent figures from Suffolk police up to October 27 last year revealed that they had been called to ‘concern for safety’ incidents at the bridge 188 times since January 1, 2021. 

During the whole of 2020, there had been 163 similar calls, while the figures for 2019 showed there had been 110 calls, indicating a steady year-on-year increase in cases. 

The sad death of Aayush Desai, 17, on May 18 is among many deaths at the bridge that have prompted calls for extra prevention measures, including so-called prevention barriers which have proved successful in reducing deaths elsewhere in the country. 

Other lives lost include Archie Hall, aged 20, in 2015 following a severe decline in his mental health.

Archie Hall, who sadly passed away in 2015 Picture: ARCHANT

Archie Hall, who sadly passed away in 2015 Picture: ARCHANT - Credit: Archant

His mother Laura backed the Stop the Bridge Deaths campaign run by the Ipswich Star and East Anglian Daily Times in 2016, calling for additional safety measures to be put in place on the Orwell Bridge.  

Caroline Rutherford, who runs youth and children’s charities, has been running a petition on the UK Parliament website calling for additional safety measures on the Orwell Bridge, including higher barriers similar to those installed on the Clifton Suspension Bridge in Bristol. 

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So far, the petition has collected 1,586 signatures, though she said recently the numbers signing had slowed and there tended to be a surge whenever a death at the site is reported in the media. 

She added: “I just wanted something to be done, to make a change that would result in the number of fatalities being reduced. 

“I am a parent, a wife, a fellow human citizen that is concerned and I did not see much being done to prevent further incidents.” 

To sign her petition, visit https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/601839 

If you're struggling and need to talk, the Samaritans operate a free helpline open 24/7 on 116 123. Alternatively, you can email jo@samaritans.org or visit their site to find your local branch https://www.samaritans.org.