Report hears 36 river rescue incidents in county since 2015 resulted in seven fatalities

A total of 36 river rescue incidents have been recorded in Shrewsbury between 2015 and 2022, a river safety review has reported.

The red markers show successful life-saving rescues, and the black markers indicate locations of where fatalities were known to have entered the water/last seen.
The red markers show successful life-saving rescues, and the black markers indicate locations of where fatalities were known to have entered the water/last seen.

According to a Freedom of Information request from report authors WSP to the Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service, 29 of the incidents resulted in successful life-saving rescues while seven resulted in fatalities.

The report authors say: "The reasons for entering the water are unknown, as are the extents of any injuries acquired, however it has been indicated that a large proportion of rescues were as a result of people seeking to intentionally harm themselves."

They add: "It can be seen that the two main clusters are in the vicinity of Victoria Quay/Welsh Bridge, and Castlefields. A third smaller cluster centres around English Bridge."

The peak days for incidents were Friday, Saturday and Sunday, accounting for 64 per cent of all the incidents.

The peak numbers of incidents occurred in April, August and October. November to February accounted for the lowest numbers, with these four months accounting for only 14 per cent of the incidents.

WSP have identified several common themes; drugs/alcohol and concerns about spiking; scarcity of late-night transport, for example taxis, resulting in the use of unsafe routes to walk home; use of the river as a place to urinate (at night-time); the difficulty of getting out of the river after falling in if alone/unaided; concerns about the use of the river for leisure swimming, predominantly by young people; and observations of people ‘tombstoning’ from Kingsland Bridge and Porthill Bridge.

The review into safety around the Severn in Shrewsbury was commissioned after a number of tragedies in the town earlier this year.

Two men, Nathan Fleetwood and Toby Jones, died in the river in the space of a few days in March and April, and another man, Dan Walker, was left with serious injuries after being rescued from the water.

Among the recommendations in this week's report are Amsterdam-style riverside urinals to try and prevent intoxicated men falling into the Severn, more ladders out of the water to provide an escape route for when people do fall in, and public safety campaigns.

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