Cold water shock kills - family of 14-year-old boy who died in the River Wear support new campaign

Fiona Gosling - mum of Cameron Gosling who died after getting into difficulties in the River Wear last summer (2015) Credit: Durham County Council

The family of a County Durham boy who died after entering the River Wear are backing a campaign to warn others about the potentially fatal effect of cold water shock.

Fourteen-year-old Cameron Gosling, a pupil at Parkside Academy in Willington, went to the River Wear near Bishop Auckland with friends on a sunny day in July 2015.

Without acclimatising himself, he jumped into the water, got into difficulties and died.

As groups of friends make for the county’s rivers, lakes, reservoirs and quarries over the coming months focused only on enjoying themselves, many will be unaware of the dangers posed by the temperature of the water before they enter.

His Mum Fiona Gosling , who is pushing for water safety to be added to the national curriculum under the hashtag 'Campaigning for Cam', said:

“Cameron’s friends had paddled in the water before swimming but he jumped straight in and his body went into shock as a result of the sudden change in temperature.

“Had he known of the dangers of cold water shock, we might not have lost a loving son and friend.

“We want to educate young people on this little known killer and fully support what Dying to be Cool is trying to achieve.

“We don’t want other people to have the hole in their lives that Cameron has left in ours.”

More information on the new campaign can be found at

The new poster campaign Credit: Durham County Council
Cameron's friends Credit: Durham County Council

What is cold water shock?

  • Sudden immersion in cold water can cause blood vessels in the skin to close, which makes it harder for blood to flood around the body.

  • The heart then has to work harder and blood pressure increases.

  • At the same time there is a "gasp" response which can result in water being breathed rather than air.

  • The breathing rate also changes dramatically - it can increase by as much as tenfold.

  • All these responses contribute to a feeling of panic.

  • One effect of cold water shock can be cardiac arrest, while death can occur.

Fiona Gosling with one of Cameron's friends Credit: Durham County Council