Play it Safe, Be Water Aware: Bawsey tragedy a reminder of water risks
- Credit: Denise Bradley
This newspaper has launched the Play It Safe campaign urging people to enjoy the county's lakes, rivers and seas safely and responsibly, after a recent spate of water related deaths in the county.
Following the incident, one friend of Mr Gina took to social media to urge people not to swim in the water at the country park.
They said: "Such a great lad. So young. So heart breaking. I urge everyone, DO NOT swim at Bawsey Pits, it's so dangerous.
"Rest in peace Radek Gina, you'll be missed."
Another paid tribute, saying: "It's a wicked world, what is going on.
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"Another dear young life gone only out enjoying himself cruel old world we live in.
"I pray to god to give his family strength."
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The lake is often a popular spot for tourists when temperatures soar, however swimming at the country park is banned, with Mr Gina, the fourth person to die at the site this decade.
Last year, a 22-year-old man died on an air bed at the site, after he drifted across the lake.
Kristers Bednarskis was sunbathing with his girlfriend, Gabriele Dulksnyte, at the shallow end of the water, when Miss Dulksnyte decided to swim ashore to get something to eat, however when she returned, she looked back and saw Mr Bednarskis had slipped off the mattress and was in difficulty in the water.
His friend Ilja Jevtusenko, who set up a GoFundMe page to pay for Mr Bednarskis' funeral costs, said: “Kristers was an amazing friend to everyone , everyone that knows him will know he was the hardest working, kindest and nicest guy.
“He was an amazing friend , brother and son. Had big things going for him."
Bawsey Country Park is urging those who do get into difficulty in water to follow the RNLI's Float To Live points.
The points are:
- Fight your instinct to thrash around
- Lean back, extend your arms and legs
- If you need to, gently move your arms and legs to help you float
- Float until you can control your breathing
- Only then call for help or swim to safety
This year, the Royal Life Saving Society (RLSS) has warned there could be a steep increase in water related deaths, as it expects families to flock to water locations in the UK, as many choose to take staycations due to travel restrictions.
It says many people, especially children, have missed vital swimming lessons and sessions due to lockdown and pool closures, leaving them unprepared.
According to the charity, the pandemic has left a "dramatic gap" in school swimming and water safety education, with an average of over 400 people dying of accidental drowning each year, a number which the RLSS says is on the rise.
The RLSS says, young people from low incomes and ethnic minority communities have been the hardest hit, with 95pc of black adults and 80pc of black children unable to swim.
RLSS UK director, Lee Heard, said: “We are surrounded by opportunities to be in or near water.
"Whatever their age and activity level, everyone should be having fun, creating memories and feeling at ease around the water.
"The inequality in access to swimming and water safety education, and subsequent lack of potential interaction with the water is a big concern.
“We urge as many parents and carers as possible to get involved with the campaign, use our free online resources, and give children the skills to enjoy a lifetime of fun in the water. “
The RLSS's online resources can be accessed here.
Our Play It Safe water safety posters can be purchased here.