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REPORT: River Wear safety

Following a rescue operation in the early hours of this morning to save the life of another student who had fallen into the the River Wear, police are saying there is a desperate need to change the drinking culture among students.

Watch Frances Read's report on river safety measures in Durham:

Wear rescue: Durham University thank those who averted a 'possible tragedy'

The 20-year old student was discovered at 1.45am today in the River Wear near Durham Amateur Rowing Club by a passer-by who raised the alarm.

Durham University's Chief Operating Officer, Paulina Lubacz has issued the following statement:

We have been notified of an incident in the early hours of this morning (Friday) involving one of our students at the River Wear in Durham, which was attended by the emergency services. The student is safe.

The University would like to thank the member of the public who raised the alarm and the emergency services for averting a possible tragedy. We are working actively with partner organisations to address river safety.

The University is also contacting all students to notify them about the incident and urging them to take proactive measures to ensure their personal safety.

– Paulina Lubacz


Human chain rescues student who fell into the river

Durham Police say that officers formed a human chain, with help from the fire service, to rescue a student who had fallen into the River Wear.

Area near where the man was pulled out of the River Wear Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The man was discovered at 1.45am today in the water near Durham Amateur Rowing Club by a passer-by who raised the alarm.

Police officers came to the aid of the student and managed to get him out of the water.

The river near Durham rowing club Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

The man was taken to the University Hospital of North Durham suffering from hypothermia.

River safety action plan agreed for Durham

An action plan for river safety has been agreed for Durham City following the death of Durham University student Euan Coulthard. Euan was the third student to get into difficulty in the river in just over a year.

At the meeting a range of actions were agreed:

  • An independent review of riverside safety by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA)
  • Durham University and the Students’ Union will further develop their work to inform and educate students
  • Licensed premises will ensure alcohol is supplied in a safe and sensible way
  • Drivers’ recruitment campaign to be launched to support the Students’ Union in re-establishing their night-time bus
  • Development of a new arrangement between the University and identified taxi operators in the city
  • Explore measures to tackle the availability of cheap alcohol
  • Will to progress this work as quickly as possible

As well as these developments, some immediate measures were agreed. These include:

  • A high visibility welfare unit to provide a safe haven
  • The provision of new kit and radios to join up communications and support patrols
  • The development of a night-time scheme supported by student volunteers

These measures will be 'undertaken and implemented without delay'. A further meeting will be held within the next two weeks.

The City Safety Group comprises of Durham County Council, Durham University, the Durham Students’ Union, Durham Constabulary and Durham Cathedral.


Body confirmed as Durham University student Euan Coulthard

The body recovered from the River Wear in Durham city last Friday afternoon has now been formally identified as Euan Coulthard.

The 19-year-old was reported missing on Thursday, 15th January after he failed to return home following a night out.

The results of post mortem examination will be forwarded to HM Coroner but police are satisfied there are no suspicious circumstances regarding Euan’s death.

The coroner is expected to arrange for an inquest to open, probably later this week.

We are very grateful for the assistance we received during our searches from Euan’s friends and fellow students, as well as all the other agencies and volunteers who took part. Our thoughts are now very much with Euan’s family at this sad time.”

– Supt Colin Williamson

Diver who found Wear body having nightmares after discovery

Trevor Bankhead, who found the body believed to be Euan Coulthard, says he does not know if he will be able to dive into the river again, at least for a while.

Mr Bankhead has been having nightmares since he made the discovery. He said he had to go and try to find Euan as a father of four girls. He says he understood what the Coulthard family must be going through.

Diver said "I've come to take you home, my friend"

A professional diver travelled over 170 miles to find the body of missing Durham University student Euan Coulthard, after police said it was too dangerous to enter the river.

Trevor Bankhead said he discovered a body within seconds of entering the River Wear just yards from where the 19-year-old law student was last seen on Framwellgate Bridge.

Euan Coulthard

The body has not yet been formally identified, but the diver said he knew it was Euan immediately. The diver said that while underwater he said "I've come to take you home, my friend."

Trevor Bankhead said he discovered a body within seconds of entering the River Wear

Mr Bankhead works as a commercial shellfish diver and travelled from the Western Isles in Scotland to Durham to look for the missing student to bring closure to Euan's family, after speaking to his brother Gary, a firefighter involved in the search.

Mr Bankhead, from Chester-le-Street, has scuba dived in the River Wear more than 500 times.

Flowers have been left at the scene Credit: ITV

"Police immediately wanted to deploy divers but after taking advice from the Environment Agency and fire service, were unable to do so due to bad weather conditions.

"We were made aware on Friday morning by Mr Bankhead that he was planning on taking it upon himself to go into the river to look under the bridge."

– Durham Police
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