Youngsters reported diving off Lemons Hill Bridge in Tattingstone two years after man's death
PUBLISHED: 19:00 25 June 2017
"Please don't do this - it is a horrible way to die."
Those were the emotional words of 36-year-old Zena Williams from Ipswich, who has been pleading youngsters not to risk their lives diving into Alton Water off Lemons Hill Bridge in Tattingstone, following the death of her brother there in 2015.
This Friday marks the two year anniversary of Matthew Dunnett’s death, after he tombstoned into the reservoir from Lemons Hill Bridge to cool off from the heat.
He resurfaced, but it became clear he was in difficulty, shouting and waving to friends before falling back underwater. His body was discovered by emergency services two hours later.
Now, as Tattingstone residents have reported that youngsters have been diving off the bridge again to cool off from the sunshine, Miss Williams has issued a desperate plea for them not to risk their lives.
“People think it won’t happen to me, I am a strong swimmer, but with the currents of that water it means nothing,” she said.
“There have been other deaths of kids swimming in reservoirs – it is a big problem.”
Among the risks of diving into the water are the paralysing effect of shock as the body enters the cold water quickly, strong currents which can carry people away under the water and the potential for hidden reeds.
Since 2015 more signs have been put up warning people.
A Suffolk police spokeswoman said: “Officers have been giving attention to the area when they can, but we would strongly urge people to heed the warning signs that are in place.
“The tragic death of Matt Dunnett there two years ago graphically illustrated the danger of jumping into the water, and it is very concerning that individuals are ignoring the warnings that are there for a good reason – to prevent further tragedies.”
Miss Williams was involved in a campaign with Anglian Water, which operates Alton Water, and Suffolk Fire and Rescue in April to raise awareness for water safety, but said reports of youngsters using the bridge again means more needs to be done.
“I really wish they can bring back something like Broomhill so they can cool off there,” she said.
“We are trying to carry on and we are going to the bridge on Friday with some flowers, but it makes me so sad that people are still doing this.”
Anglian Water’s guidance
Sarah Dobson, Anglian water spokeswoman said: “We are aware of people entering the water at Lemons Hill Bridge.
“Wardens have stepped up their regular patrol of the area and we have hard hitting signage in place to warn people of the dangers of jumping into the reservoir.
“Since Matthew’s tragic death we have worked closely with Suffolk Fire and Rescue to raise awareness of the dangers of open water and we will continue to do so.
“We want people to enjoy the lovely weather but more importantly we want them to stay safe.
“It might look appealing to dive into a calm-looking reservoir on a scorching hot day, but these are operational sites and can be extremely dangerous for even the strongest swimmer.
“Reservoirs are often in isolated locations and are incredibly deep with hidden machinery under the water and many sudden dips and drops.
“They also have very strong, hidden currents from the continuous pumping of water to customers’ homes.
“Even during the summer and a heatwave like this, the water temperature in reservoirs stays very low and can cause shock or hypothermia.
“Anyone who does want to try outdoor swimming can do so safely by going to an outdoor pool or heading to our fantastic coastline.
“Rutland’s beach will be opening on July 1 and people will be able to paddle there, with lifeguards on hand.”