Tributes to boy, 13, who died after swimming in the river as safety alert issued

Robert Hattersley was one of several people to have died in the water since the recent heatwave began.

18 July 2022

Emergency services and the Government have reiterated urgent warnings about the dangers of trying to keep cool after several tragedies in waterways and reservoirs during the heatwave.

It comes as the family of 13-year-old Robert Hattersley said they are “absolutely devastated” after he died after getting into trouble on the River Tyne in Northumberland on Sunday.

Emergency services also confirmed the deaths of a 16-year-old boy in Salford Quays, Greater Manchester, a 16-year-old boy in Bray Lake near Maidenhead, Berkshire, and a 50-year-old man in a reservoir near Leeds in similar circumstances.

Detective Inspector Phil Hughes, of Leeds CID, said of the latter: “This incident serves as a timely reminder about the dangers of swimming in open water.”

Robert Hattersley death
Robert Hattersley (Northumbria Police/PA)

Northumbria Police said Robert’s death in Ovingham “does act as a poignant and timely reminder as to the potential dangers presented by water”.

The Crawcrook teenager’s family said he would bring “a smile to so many people’s faces”.

In a tribute, they said: “It is impossible to put into words the heartbreak we are feeling. Robert was so kind and loving. We are absolutely devastated by what has happened.

“He brought a smile to so many people’s faces and he will be missed by absolutely everyone who knew and loved him.

“We’d like to thank all the emergency services who worked so hard to try to find Robert, as well as everyone who has been in touch passing on their messages of condolence.”

Police said Robert’s body was found after an extensive search, which started shortly before 4.15pm on Sunday.

Newly appointed Health Secretary Steve Barclay warned of “significant dangers” for people tempted to swim in a river to cool off amid the soaring temperatures.

Asked whether people should be going outside and visiting beaches, Mr Barclay told reporters people should use “common sense” and follow the advice of public health experts.

That meant “hydration, covering up, being in the shade, avoiding the times of the day when heat is at its peak”.

He added: “There is a particular message, particularly for teenagers, children, some of those who may be tempted to go for a swim – there’s significant dangers of that, quite often when people go swimming in rivers when we have very hot weather.

“So it’s following common sense steps and keeping an eye on neighbours and those who are vulnerable, and following the guidance that’s been put out by the relevant bodies.”

More from Perspective

Get a free copy of our print edition


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed

Your email address will not be published. The views expressed in the comments below are not those of Perspective. We encourage healthy debate, but racist, misogynistic, homophobic and other types of hateful comments will not be published.