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Family makes open water plea as fire service launches ‘Dying For A Dip’ campaign

The family of an ‘amazing lad’ who died after jumping in a lake is calling for people to stay out of open water this summer.

Taylor Matthews, known as Tay, tragically passed away after jumping into the water at Skelbrooke Quarry, from a bank around 30ft high, in July 2018.

The inquest into his death ruled that Tay died from immersion, with his body instantly shutting down due to the cold water.

And now, as part of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s new Dying For A Dip campaign, his aunt, Toni Matthews, is pleading with people to not follow in Tay’s footsteps.

“Taylor was a strong swimmer but when he entered the cold water, and his body shut down, there was absolutely nothing he could do,” she said.

“People really don’t have any idea how dangerous open water can be. We don’t want any family to have to go through the pain we’ve suffered.

“To anyone even considering going for a dip in open water, planned or not, please don’t do it. And if you’ve got kids, make sure they know how dangerous it is.”

The collective message and campaign launch – which is also backed by agencies such as Yorkshire Water and FCC Environment, the company that looks after Skelbrooke Quarry – comes after the Royal Life Saving Society’s Drowning Prevention Week (12 to 19 June).

Station Manager Tom Hirst, one of South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue’s water safety leads, said: “What happened to Taylor was an absolute tragedy. It’s one of several similar incidents in Yorkshire over the last few years and each one is equally as heart breaking for their families.

“We want people to enjoy the warmer months and our amazing countryside, but we don’t want you entering bodies of open water, such as quarries, lakes and reservoirs, due to the hazards they present.

“Even when the sun is out the water can be so cold. You have no idea what lies underneath and hidden currents can overcome even the strongest of swimmers.

“Our advice is simple – unless you are part of an organised, supervised swimming group then please stay well clear of open water, as we don’t want any more families to have to go through the heart ache of a water related fatality like this one.

“It’s also worth pointing out that around half of the people who get in bother don’t intend to enter the water at all. So, if you are near rivers or lakes, please be extra careful & don’t get too close.”

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This content was last updated on June 20th, 2020