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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


Tributes left to Durham students

Flowers have been left to Durham students Euan Coulthard and Sope Peters Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Flowers have been left above the spot where a body, believed to be Euan Coulthard, was recovered from the River Wear. The flowers also pay tribute to Durham University students, Sope Peters, 20, went missing on October 29, 2013 and Luke Pearce, 19, who drowned on May 11, 2014.

"Always in our hearts" Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

Durham Student's Union says it is working with the University, Police and Fire Service to improve safety and try to avoid another tragedy.

“We are deeply saddened to hear the tragic news of Euan Coulthard’s death. Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this very difficult time.

– Dan Slavin, President of Durham Students’ Union
Euan Coulthard went missing after a night out with friends 10 days ago Credit: ITV Tyne Tees

“Durham Students’ Union will continue to work with Durham University, Durham County Council, the Police and the Fire Rescue Service to address and improve student safety. We are taking a joined up approach and formed a working group last year. The safety of our students is of paramount importance and we will work with our partners to avoid another tragedy.”

– Dan Slavin, President of Durham Students’ Union
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