THREE devastated families have come together to describe the “horror story” they are living through after the deaths of their loved ones in York’s rivers and have urged revellers to take steps to ensure they stay safe.
Jackie Roberts, the mother of Megan Roberts, Steve Pearson, the father of Tyler Pearson and Rachel Peatfield, the girlfriend of Ben Clarkson whose loved ones were all discovered in the city’s waterways after a night out have made emotional videos which they hope will bring home the message that people need to plan a safe route home .
An urgent summit was held in March in a bid to stop people falling into the River Ouse and River Foss late at night. And a new safety campaign,which includes videos made by the families and a social media campaign announced today at a press conference in York is aimed at highlighting the dangers, while also attempting to shift a binge-drinking culture.
“It’s that nightmare situation that every parent I suppose dreads,” Jackie Roberts said.
She said she has lost her daughter and a really good friend and it was like being in a “horror story.”
“If anything can be learned from this then it really is the looking out for each other, making sure you know how you are getting home, your route home, planning cabs in advance and the drinking you know, maybe we can prevent something like this happening again.”
Ben Clarkson’s girlfriend Rachel Peatfield pleaded with revellers: “You have got to think about how you are getting home, just don’t walk home on your own, stay with friends, stay with familiar people. If you are not comfortable with something just don’t think ‘oh I’ll be alright just this once’ because you don’t know.”
Mr Pearson, says his son was brought up knowing the dangers of rivers. “I’m broken and cannot see a way forward,” he says.
York’s Police Commander, Supt Phil Cain, has stressed river safety is of “paramount importance” as the North Yorkshire force has pledged to work with council officials to ensure the night-time economy is more diverse.
Senior police and council officials today announced details of a concerted safety campaign to prevent further tragedies in York after fears have been raised about the dangers posed to drunken revellers as they walk along the city’s river banks. In the last 15 years there have been at least 25 river deaths in York.
Julia Mulligan, North Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner said: “Our collective message today is firmly on staying safe, in particular during and after a night out. Make a plan for getting home, avoid the rivers and stick with your friends especially if you’ve had a bit to drink.
“More broadly it is also essential that we do all we can to tackle some of root causes of the problems, in particular the drinking culture. York is a fantastic place to go out at night and the fact that it is such a safe city is one of its major attractions.
“We need to do all we can to ensure it remains as safe as possible. Over the coming months this will be a real focus for us all and I am looking forward to working with York Council and partners in taking this forward.”
Miss Roberts, from Wetherby, was last seen in York at about 2am during a night out with friends. Her body was later discovered in the River Ouse. North Yorkshire Police has confirmed that the most likely scenario is that the York St John University student fell in the river while “affected by alcohol”.
Mr Clarkson, 22, was last seen outside Fibbers Nightclub, on Stonebow in York, at 3.40am. His body was later discovered at Foss Bank. The former student at York St John University, came to York from Leeds and worked at a music store.
Soldier Tyler Pearson, 18, of 2 Signal Regiment, was seen to enter the River Ouse in the early hours, near Ouse Bridge, in York. His body was later found in the river at Skeldergate Bridge in York.
The Yorkshire Post revealed in March that extra training could be given to nightclub door staff, taxi drivers and volunteers in York to help them deal with drunk revellers.