Police watch reservoir after Bockarie Sonnah death

Police officers give advice at Torduff Reservoir. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Police officers give advice at Torduff Reservoir. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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POLICE have mounted patrols at the reservoir where a 14-year-old boy drowned after youths defied safety warnings by swimming in the water just days after the tragedy.

Officers are carrying out patrols at Torduff Reservoir in Colinton – and across all Edinburgh’s waterways – advising bathers of the dangers following the death of Bockarie Sonnah on Monday.

As floral tributes continued to be left at the scene, teenagers were seen playing in the reservoir less than 48 hours after his body was recovered.

Officers have been spotted speaking to children who were found swimming in the unpredictable waters in a bid to prevent another incident.

Scottish Water and The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have also urged parents to keep their youngsters safe around the reservoir and other inland waters.

Ward councillor Jason Rust welcomed news of a police presence at the reservoir, particularly in the warmer summer months.

He added: “We also need greater education, perhaps through schools, to teach children about the dangers these kinds of waters can pose, such as undercurrents.”

A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “Officers will be doing regular patrols around reservoirs and waterways in light of what has happened and because of the good weather.”

Just hours before the tragedy, Scottish Water erected new danger signs warning visitors: “Take care, deaths have occurred at reservoirs.”

Mark Maclaren, a Scottish Water regional communities team manager, said: “While it’s important that youngsters enjoy their school holidays and that people across Scotland take pleasure in the country’s beautiful lochs, rivers and reservoirs, it’s also vital that they stay safe.

“We are reminding parents to keep their children safe and asking people to act responsibly around watercourses.”

Carlene McAvoy, community safety development officer at RoSPA Scotland, said: “During periods of hot weather and school holidays, there is often a rise in the number of accidental drownings, which is why it is important to be extra vigilant.

“The water can be a lot colder than expected, which can lead to a swimmer going into cold shock. In the worst case, a swimmer will inhale water and the drowning process begins. There may also be strong currents and underwater debris that you cannot see from the bank, so don’t go alone, and consider how you are going to get out of the water before you get in.”

Figures from the National Water Safety Forum showed 371 people drowned accidentally in the UK in 2012 – 43 were aged under 19.

Of the 371 drownings, 203 took place in inland waters, including rivers and reservoirs.

It is believed Bockarie, who was originally from Sierra Leone, was going for “one last jump” from the bank when he began struggling in the water at about 6.15pm on Monday.

His body was recovered at around 10pm.

Bockarie’s devastated foster father, Derek McIntosh, has visited the reservoir to lay flowers and read the mounting tributes from the teenager’s Firrhill High School friends and Redhall Star AFC team-mates.

The family’s message read: “Thank you for being part of our family and giving us a wonderful, happy two and a half years. If only you knew how much we love you and are hearbroken we have lost you.”