Warning about the dangers of 'Tombstoning'

Date: 21/07/2017

Following some recent incidents in north Wales of young people jumping into disused quarry pools  or ‘Tombstoning’ North Wales Police, local land owners and other local partners are joining together to highlight this extremely dangerous activity.    Those partaking are also filming themselves the results of which have received wide scale exposure on Social Media wrongly advertising the activity as an extreme sport alongside other, safer,  and more regulated activities which are becoming regular fayre for those seeking outdoor adventure as part of their holidays and reasons to visit north Wales.

 In Dorothea Quarry, in Talysarn near Caernarfon this June ‘Tombstoners’ filmed themselves jumping from ledges over 60 feet into water attracting comments from ‘enthusiasts from all over the world thru Social Media’.   Those jumping were trespassing as the Quarry is privately owned and despite owners erecting fencing, warnings and CCTV participants have still gained entry.   Further security is being considered and quarry owners are in full support of the local Police in trying to prevent a potential tragedy.

 On behalf of the quarry Nigel Spiers said ‘this is a dangerous activity and we wholeheartedly support the Police in what they are doing.  We have just commissioned further on-site safety work to be carried out and we apologise for any disruption it may cause and would urge the local community to get in touch with the Police if they see any dangerous or suspicious activity occurring around Dorothea'.

 Supt Nigel Harrison at Caernarfon Police Station said ‘We have a morale and legal responsibility to protect lives part of which involves pointing out potential dangers and advising people, particularly young people,  accordingly.   Unregulated tombstoning is a very dangerous practice and whilst the death of a young woman in May in Fairbourne is still to be examined by HM Coroner, jumping from a height into water appears to be a contributory factor.   We have seen via Social Media some very ‘close calls’ at other locations in the region where those jumping have been painfully close to serious injury.    We certainly don’t want to be seen as interfering with people’s fun but I’m merely saying do so in a safe environment with a regulated and responsible body and reduce significantly the prospect of a Police Officer visiting a family members home to pass some devastating news’

 Helen Church, RNLI Community Safety Partner for Wales and west England, said: ‘Whether it’s on the coast or at inland bodies of water, we want people to be aware of the risks of jumping into water from height – or tombstoning.

‘The water may be shallower than it looks. Submerged items may not be visible and can cause serious or life changing injuries if you hit them. The water can be a lot colder than it looks so the shock of cold water may also make it difficult to swim and in the sea and rivers currents can sweep you away.

 ‘It’s really important that people think about the possible dangers.   We want people to be in a position to make better, more informed choices to keep themselves and others safe. The RNLI does not  recommend tombstoning.  You should never allow others to pressure you into jumping.  If you wish to jump into the water, first check for hazards such as rocks.   Water depths can change rapidly with tide, waves and for other reasons, just because you saw somebody else jump in earlier doesn’t mean it is safe to do so now.  Also it is important to check for access because it may be impossible to get out of the water.  Coasteering or other activities with a registered company may be a safer alternative.’

 Councillor Ioan Thomas, Gwynedd Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development added “As the warmer weather approaches, people are bound to be looking to enjoy the great outdoors and cool off on our beaches or inland bodies of water.  However, we are urging members of the public not to put themselves in unnecessary danger by taking part in unregulated tombstoning into disused quarry pools.

 “These pools may contain a number of potential hazards which could cause serious injury and the water may be far shallower than they appear to be.  It should also be remembered that the water temperature in these pools can be dangerously cold even during prolonged periods of warm weather.

“We are also appealing to parents to ensure that their children are aware of the dangers of trespassing on old industrial sites and to avoid swimming in any pools or lakes which may contain hidden dangers such as underwater currents or sudden deep water.”