Police urge people to take care in open water after man in his 20s dies at Norfolk country park

Police in Norfolk are urging people to take 'the utmost care' around water after a man in his 20s died yesterday, 8th August, at Bawsey Country Park, near King's Lynn.

Emergency services were called to the beauty spot - also known as Bawsey Pits - just before lunchtime.

Rescue teams searched for the missing man who is thought to have got into difficulty in the water.

Superintendent Malcolm Cooke from Norfolk Constabulary said:

"Colleagues from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and the East of England Ambulance Service assisted officers in the search. " 

"The body of the man, aged in his 20s, was recovered from the water and he was sadly pronounced dead at the scene."

"Whilst enquiries are continuing to establish the exact circumstances leading up to the man’s death, this is a tragic situation. Without wanting to prejudge what has happened here I would urge people to take the utmost care around water and to be aware of hidden dangers such as fast flowing currents, underwater obstacles and weeds."

Rescue teams search the water at Bawsey Country Park. Credit: Ian Burt

Enquiries continue into the circumstances surrounding the death

In 2013, two people drowned in the disused quarry.

Umar Balogun, a 16-year-old on a trip with two care workers, died after getting into trouble swimming.

Ryan Pettengell, 41, of King's Lynn, Norfolk, swum out to look for the teenager but he got into difficulties and also drowned.

Swimming is banned at the pits - but many ignore warning signs.

  • The owners of Bawsey Estate & Country Park posted a long statement on their Facebook page addressing the incident:

"The owners and staff of Bawsey Country Park would like to offer their sincere condolences to the family and friends of the man who tragically lost his life at the park yesterday. We would also like to express our thanks and praise for all the emergency services who attended yesterday and worked tirelessly to deal with such an awful situation.

Since we took on the park we have worked closely with the relevant authorities including the Police and the Fire Brigade in order to improve the safety of the park. The park rules, including the direction to stay out of the water, are clear all over the park, on our website and on our social media. We have greatly increased the safety signage around the park and ensured the signs are pictorial so that they are clear for visitors of all nationalities. We regularly update our social media with educational content to educate visitors as to the dangers of going into the water and why they should not do so. We have also recently handed out flyers to visitors to educate them on the dangers of going into the water.

Our warden, park staff and catering vendors have all recently received basic training with Norfolk Fire and Rescue services. Our warden patrols the site daily and advises people to stay out of the water, and all our refreshment vendors are supplied with life rings and throw ropes in case of emergency. We have created and improved access routes within the park for emergency vehicles and installed a slipway for the easy launch of rescue boats.The loss of this young man’s life is a tragedy which we hope with all our hearts will never be repeated. We remain committed to improving the park and promoting its safe usage so that it can remain a beautiful natural site for local people to use safely and enjoy for many years to come, but we need our visitors to help us. We reiterate our plea for visitors to abide by the park rules and PLEASE STAY OUT OF THE WATER so that no future tragedies occur."

  • ITV News Anglia reporter Matthew Hudson was at Bawsey Country Park two days after the incident, 10th August: