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  1. ITV Report

Durham bridge 'prank' could have killed us, say rowers

Members of Durham Amateur Rowing Club had a narrow escape. Photo: ITV News

A team of rowers in Durham say they are lucky none of their crew members were killed after youths hurled what is thought to be a concrete block from a bridge as they rowed beneath it.

Police investigating the the incident which they describe as an act of stupidity.

It happened last Tuesday evening when youths threw heavy objects from Baths Bridge in an apparent attempt to hit a boat which was being rowed by an all-female crew from Durham Amateur Rowing Club.

One heavy object did hit the bow of the boat, causing massive damage, nearly causing it to sink after it almost split in two.

After the shock of the attack subsided, those onboard are now just relieved that no crew members were hit.

A group of young boys threw either concrete blocks or sandbags, we are not really sure. One of them hit the bow and the boat started to sink. We didn't realise what had happened - it sounded like a gunshot"

"These boats are strong. They are made out of fiberglass. It takes a lot to split them like this. "It was really close to Ruth, who was sitting in the bow of the boat. I am glad that it did not hit her, or anyone else."

– Emily Hanscam, Durham Amateur Rowing Club
Emily Hanscam, a member of Durham Amateur Rowing Club. Credit: ITV News

And Emily Hanscam told ITV News Tyne Tees that she had this message for those who did it:

Guys, your actions have consequences. You are really lucky - we are really lucky - that you did not hit anybody, because then the police would be after your for attempted murder or something like that.

"That is what the police were talking about when they came down here. They were very glad that it was not a murder investigation.

"We are, obviously, very glad to. It seems like a bit of a joke, but it really is not."

– Emily Hanscam, Durham Amateur Rowing Club

The incident is being investigated by Durham Police, who told ITV News Tyne Tees that it could have resulted in a tragedy of much greater consequence.

This was an act of stupidity which could have had very serious consequences. It is fortunate that none of the rowers suffered injuries. We are actively investigating this incident and will be examining all the available CCTV from the location.”

– Insp Dave Coxon, Durham Police

The boat is worth £12,000 and is now being repaired for damage to the bow.

It's caused a problem for the team who are training for regattas this Spring.

However, there is a relief that the outcome was not much worse.

The boat almost split in two. Credit: Durham Amateur Rowing Club

"The people who did this have no idea how fast the boat was travelling underneath them. Had it been a second later, whatever they threw would have hit the crew. They could have been looking at a fatality."

– Mark Bell, General Manager, Durham Amateur Rowing Club
Mark Bell, Durham Amateur Rowing Club. Credit: ITV News

Despite the shock and trauma, the rowers who were targeted insist this will not stop them participating in a sport that they love.

Things happen, you cannot let it stop what we are doing because we like to row. Hopefully we will find another boat and we will keep racing."

– Emily Hanscam, Durham Amateur Rowing Club