The brother of a County Durham teenager who died from cold water shock is urging young people to acclimatise before going into rivers this summer.
Cameron Gosling, from Crook, died at the age of just 14 in the summer of 2015 after jumping into the River Wear at Witton Park near Bishop Auckland while out with friends, without getting his body used to the water temperature first.
His family has since worked with the Safe Durham Partnership to raise awareness of cold water shock among 10 to 16 year olds through the national award-winning Dying to be Cool campaign.
Cameron’s younger brother Cyle, 12, is now urging young people to ease themselves into rivers, lakes and reservoirs this summer, rather than jump straight in.
The teenager has also spoken about his brother, the day he died, and life without him, in a new video made by Durham County Council as part of Dying to be Cool 2018.
In the video, Cyle urges: “If you are going to go down by a river, make sure you do acclimatise your body before you do go in, because it won’t take long and it’s going to save you.”
Cyle, who has followed in his brother’s footsteps attending Parkside Academy at Willington, tells how the boys would regularly go down the local skate park together.
“He was a very open person, very funny, he didn’t like to see anyone left out. If he did see someone left out, he always got them involved in everything.
“He was the comedian of the house, he made everyone laugh. He was just the funniest person I knew.”
In the video Cyle speaks about returning home from playing football one day to find police cars outside the family home. The boys’ mum Fiona told him Cameron “had jumped in the river and hadn’t come back up.”
“Straightaway I burst out in tears. I put Netflix on and just started watching some comedy films to get my mind off it, and then a few hours later they came in and said that he’d died.
“I just straightaway burst out in tears but it just wouldn’t stop. And I turned around all the photos of him in the house just to try and keep my mind off it.”
Cyle tells how there are days since his brother’s passing when “you just can’t keep your mind off him.”
Cold water shock is the body’s short term involuntary response to being suddenly immersed in cold water. It causes a “gasp” response which can result in water being breathed rather than air, and feelings of panic. The results can be cardiac arrest or even death.
As well as the video, this year’s Dying to be Cool campaign is once again featuring school assemblies which see Mrs Gosling speak to pupils about her son’s death and cold water shock.
The assemblies, which also feature displays of water rescue equipment by crews from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service, have reached in excess of 10,000 schoolchildren since launched in 2016.
Cyle took part in one of the sessions last year, addressing fellow pupils at Parkside.
A record number of County Durham schools have signed up to host assemblies before the summer holidays. They are also being delivered across Darlington for a second year by the fire and rescue service.
Cllr Lucy Hovvels MBE, the council’s Cabinet member for community safety, said: “We are really grateful to Cyle, Fiona and the whole Gosling family, as well as our fire and rescue colleagues, for working with us to get a really important safety message to young people.
“We all know how tempting it’ll be when the weather’s good over the summer to jump into water to cool off. But we’d ask them please to remember what happened to Cameron and the impact this has had on his loved ones.
“We’re not saying don’t go in – just please acclimatise your body before you do and don’t jump straight in.”
Dying to be Cool has contributed to a reduction in water related fatalities and injuries since it was launched, according to SDP figures.
In 2015/16, there were nine near misses, five injuries and two fatalities across County Durham. In 2016/17, following the launch of the campaign, there were just four near misses, two injuries and one fatality.
In 2017, there were no fatalities in open water in County Durham and there has been none to date in 2018.
The campaign last year helped the council win an MJ Achievement Award for Excellence in Community Engagement, in recognition of its water safety work.
The Safe Durham Partnership consists of the council, fire and rescue service, Durham Constabulary and other partners.