YOUNGSTERS are risking their lives diving into open water just weeks after an East Lancashire teenager died in a reservoir.
Police have been forced to increase their patrols around Jamestone Quarry, in Haslingden after finding a group teenagers ‘tombstoning’ off a 30ft rock face into the 10-metre deep water known locally as the ‘Blue Lagoon’.
Officers were called to the Grane Road quarry on Sunday around 1pm by concerned residents who had seen youngsters drinking at the quarry.
Just a short time later, officers said they also received another call from a parent of one of the 20 teens taking part highlighting the spot as dangerous.
But despite the group thought to be around 16-years-old being warned about the hidden dangers, police found more youngsters contemplating taking the plunge yesterday afternoon.
This latest incident comes as Lancashire Fire and Rescue Service revealed its firefighters have attended 10 incidents where people have got into difficulties in water since the beginning of the year.
It is thought the recent heatwave is tempting youngsters to risk taking the plunge.
Inspector Paul Leigh, of Rossendale Neighbourhood Policing Team, said: “Some people think we are being killjoys, we understand how tempting it can be to jump in, but we are just concerned for people’s safety.
“You might feel safe because you’ve got your friends around you, but I’ve seen the tragic events recently where young James Goodship lost his life. He was a strong swimmer, but his body suffered a shock from the cold temperature of the water.
“It’s so sad for his friends and family and should be taken into consideration.
“In quarries, reservoirs and canals, in addition to the cold temperature, there are unforeseen currents and objects under the surface of the water, such as industrial machinery, shopping trolleys and rocks which can cause tremendous injuries, or worse death.
“Not only this, but because the locations are set back away from the road, it can take emergency services considerable time to reach somebody in need of being rescued.”
Haslingden councillor, Granville Morris, said for many years he has lived near to the quarry and has seen groups of young people drinking on their way there.
He said: “I’m shocked to hear that it’s still happening after the deaths and warnings in recent years. People think we’re being killjoys saying about the dangers, but it’s only from concern for people’s safety.”
Water safety campaigner Beckie Ramsay, has made it her job to educate young people on the risks of swimming in open water after losing her 13-year-old son Dylan Ramsay in July 2011.
Dylan got into difficulty and drowned while swimming at Hill Top Quarry, in Whittle-le-Woods, near Chorley.
She said: “It doesn’t matter how fit and healthy you are, the water is always stronger. My boy was a big, strong swimmer and it took him away.
“Don’t do it – that’s my message. Even when it’s a hot day, the water’s not safe.”
Another stark reminder of the dangers was shown last month when Colne teenager James Goodship, 17, drowned after playing on a makeshift raft with friends at Lake Burwain in Foulridge.
Owners of Jamestone Quarry Aggregate Industries said they have put up fencing and tried educate the local community about the dangers.
Colin Parke, director for Aggregate Industries, Aggregates Division North, said: “We saw seven people lose their lives in the UK last year and we've already had two fatalities this year from people who got into difficulties in water at quarries.
“We ensure that our fencing is secure throughout and, in some cases we use security guards, but education and awareness are the only real ways to stop people taking the unnecessary risk of trespassing on quarry property.”
United Utilities also own numerous reservoirs in East Lancahsire.
They say danger points for swimmers include: Hurstwood in Burnley, Stocks in Slaidburn, Alston in Longridge, Dean Clough in Blackburn, and Ogden and Black Moss, both near Barley and Pendle Hill.
Mark Byard, United Utilities’ Head of Health and Safety, said: “Every year, particularly during summer, young people are often tempted to take a dip in what appear to be safe places to swim.
“Unfortunately, reservoirs and quarry lakes are far from safe. Cold water, hidden debris, and underwater currents from pipework, mean that they are extremely dangerous.”