Life-saving equipment which has been installed at a country park in a bid to prevent any more deaths has been vandalised.
Two throwline boards at the Bawsey Pits beauty spot have been damaged with padlocked containers forced open and throwlines stolen – just a month after 20-year-old Radek Gina, of Wisbech, died after getting into difficulty in the water.
In a social media post aimed at the culprits, Bawsey Country Park said: “Your stupidity is unmeasurable. To damage equipment in place to save a life is totally beyond comprehension.”
The vandalism, believed to have taken place sometime between Saturday evening and Sunday morning, was discovered by a park warden on patrol.
It is the second time water safety equipment has been vandalised at the popular spot. In March, a safety board on the Great Lake had its box wrenched off and throwline stolen.
Richard Wilkins, business development manager at Bawsey Country Park, said: “Considering recent tragic events at Bawsey and around the country, the motivation behind damaging life-saving equipment like this is beyond my comprehension.
“If anyone has information that might lead to finding those responsible for this damage, I urge them to get in touch with me via email to email@example.com”
Over the past eight years, there have been three other tragic deaths at Bawsey Pits. Last August, 22-year-old Kristers Bednarskis, of Peterborough, drowned after he drifted across the water on an airbed and in 2013, a 16-year-old boy from East London and a 41-year-old man both drowned.
The site, purchased by Stephen Bacon in 2015, has a number of safety measures in place including increased signage, regular park warden patrols and the throwline boards.
“There are six of these boards around the park, four at the Great Lake and two at Brickyard Lake, and they were installed earlier this year following consultation with the emergency services.
“The exact location of each board is known to the emergency services, and this plays a vital role in ensuring that, in the event of an emergency, they know exactly where the incident is taking place,” said Mr Wilkins.
Sparked by Mr Gina’s death at the pits last month, a summer safety campaign has been launched and today (Friday) a safety event will be held at the pits.
Members from the emergency services will be on-hand with rescue boats and to offer advice to the public.
Mr Wilkins said the campaign is about “educating our visitors on the effects of cold water shock and advising as to the best course of action if you get into difficulty or if you are trying to help someone else”.
He added: “Our policy still remains that no swimming is allowed, however, it is important people are more informed about why they should stay out,” he said.
“There must be an element of personal responsibility from the public when it comes to water safety, however our intention is to highlight and promote the reasons behind our policy. We really hope that as many people as possible take the opportunity to come along and meet us and the emergency services.”
North West Norfolk MP James Wild said last weekend’s deaths in Loch Lomond, Scotland, were a reminder of the dangers of cold water shock.
In this week’s Your Local Paper column, he said: “Norfolk Fire and Rescue has warned of the risks of cold water shock which can cause you to gasp involuntarily and inhale water, a very rapid increase in breathing, and the onset of panic.
“Where there are signs not to swim then they are there for good reason – stay safe and stay out.”
The water safety event is from 10am to 2pm and a fire service spokesman said teams will be raising awareness.