Swimmers in Dearne waterways ‘risking their lives’

Matthew Cartwright, who died after falling into the Swinton canal.
Matthew Cartwright, who died after falling into the Swinton canal.

The grandmother of a schoolboy who drowned in a canal says people who swim in the Dearne’s waterways are risking their lives.

Wendy Cartwright was shocked to hear about youngsters taking a dip in the River Don at Mexborough earlier this month, just a mile away from the stretch of water which claimed the life of her grandson Matthew.

The youngster, of Windhill Terrace, Mexborough, who could not swim, was out picking blackberries when he fell into the South Yorkshire Navigation Canal at Swinton and drowned on August 30, 2011.

Mrs Cartwright, 58, of Elder Grove, Conisbrough, has now made an impassioned plea for people to stop swimming in open water.

She said: “Even though it can be tempting to jump in the water on a hot day, please don’t. People are needlessly risking their lives by doing this.

“The water may look warm but it is freezing underneath and there are under currents.

“Stay well away from the water and even the water’s edge. It is so easy to slip in.

“We are still devastated by what happened to Matthew and the last thing we want is another tragedy to happen.”

Mrs Cartwright’s appeal comes after police issued a similar warning a few weeks ago after children were spotted swimming in an area of the River Don, known as ‘Pebble Beach’.

Police arranged high-priority visits to schools in Mexborough to warn of the dangers of paddling and swimming to cool off.

Matthew’s death is not the only high profile tragedy to happen in the Dearne’s waterways.

Three boys have died while out swimming in Manvers Lake in Wath-upon-Dearne.

In 1997, Darren Baggley from Wath drowned when he suffered cramp as he swam with friends.

Adam Peterson, 18, from Goldthorpe, suffered the same fate in 2005 as he tried to swim out to the island with friends on a sunny day.

Philip Law, 15, of Rawmarsh died of drowning in 2010.