Birtley fireman issues drink plea after son's river death

Firefighter issues drink plea after son's river death

12/5/2021 12:58:00 PM

Firefighter issues drink plea after son's river death

Dave Irwin's 22-year-old son Ross died when he fell into a river during a Christmas night out.

Image caption,Dave Irwin said he wants to use the tragedy of his son Ross' death to keep other people safeA firefighter is urging festive revellers to stay safe near water after his son died in a river on a night out.Ross Irwin was 22 when he slipped and drowned in the River Wear in Fatefield, Washington, on 23 December 2016.

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His father Dave Irwin, 48, is leading Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service's safety message this Christmas.Mr Irwin said it had been a "tragic accident" and urged people who have been drinking to stay away from waterways such as lakes and rivers.

"There's not a minute goes by when I don't ask myself, 'what if?'," Mr Irwin, a crew manager at Birtley Community Fire Station, said.It is believed his son lost his footing on the water's edge along the riverbank at Bonemill Lane after telling friends he was going to get a taxi home.

Image source,Image caption,Ross Irwin died two days before Christmas 2016His family have become water safety campaigners and helped install throw-line equipment along sections of the Wear.Mr Irwin said: "I know that nothing we can do will ever bring Ross back to us after that fateful night.

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"But if we manage to help just one person with our water safety advice and save their family heartache this Christmas then it will be a worthwhile campaign."We miss Ross terribly.TYne and Wear Fire and Rescue ServiceImage caption,Since his son's death, Dave Irwin has helped install throw-lines along the River Wear including at Fatfield

"Consuming alcohol can be fun at the time but unfortunately it can cloud your judgement and in some cases may end in tragedy."Mr Irwin was speaking as part of the Royal Life Saving Society UK's Don't Drink and Drown campaign which starts on Monday.

On average, 73 people lose their lives each year through a substance-related drowning, the society said, which equates to 20% of annual accidental drownings.

Read more: BBC News (UK) »

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