• Tue. Jul 16th, 2024

Concerns rise about bridge jumping in Wallingford


Aug 17, 2022

CONCERNS are rising amongst residents in an Oxfordshire town as children and teens have been jumping into the River Thames during the summer months.

People living in Wallingford are worried that youngsters jumping off the Wallingford Bridge could sustain serious injuries.

There has been a rise in the activity during the two major heatwaves across the county in July and August which saw temperatures rise between 34°C and 40°C.

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However, deaths have occurred from thrill-seekers jumping off bridges in the town including RAF serviceman William Lovelock, 27, who died when he hit his head after jumping from Shillingford Bridge in October, 2003.

Since then, police have frequently warned people that bridge jumping is an “idiotic practise” which puts “people’s lives at risk”.

In a discussion online, one resident said: “There are a lot of young people jumping from the bridge. Please talk to your kids about how dangerous this is. I really don't want to see anyone at Wallingford School with a serious injury.”

Another added: “Very sad as a number of people have died in water already this year.”

However, one person commented that people have been doing it since the Sixties and its “what kids do”.

Oxford Mail: The river in Wallingford. Picture by Google MapsThe river in Wallingford. Picture by Google Maps

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One resident agreed and said: “This has been going on for years unfortunately nothing will stop them.”

Mayor Marcus Harris, who has lived in the town since he was a child, said he “wishes” children would stop jumping but there is “nothing” the town council can do.

“It’s something kids have been doing ever since I was young,” he said. “Though it is not something I have ever done myself.

“I know people who have sustained terrible injuries doing it and we’ve had deaths from it.

“The trouble is the River Thames gets very deep in the middle and very shallow around the edges and if you misjudge it you can sustain serious injuries.

“It’s a very stupid thing to do. However, there is very little we can do. No one is going to put a police patrol up there or install a fence around the sides because kids will just climb over the top or the sides.

“The bridge is Oxfordshire County Council property and there is nothing that the town council can do. We can’t close the bridge we can only discourage it.

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“I don’t agree with it. I don’t encourage it and I wish they wouldn’t do it because I don’t want to see anyone hurt in Wallingford.

“I hope nobody dies but at the end of the day there’s not much we can do to stop them.”

Read more from this author

This story was written by Gee Harland. She joined the team in 2022 as a senior multimedia reporter.

Gee covers Wallingford, Wantage and Didcot.

Get in touch with her by emailing: Gee.harland@newsquest.co.uk

Follow her on Twitter @Geeharland

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