Dangerous tombstoning practice condemned by lifeboat coxswain

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With the start of the warmer weather during the last two weeks teenagers have started tombstoning again off the Lighthouse at the Balaclava Breakwater, endangering their own lives and the lives of others.

Tombstoning has been going on for generations around the coast of the UK and involves unsupervised individuals jumping or diving from a height into water. It is a high risk activity which is at present unregulated.

As a result of the 139 tombstoning incidents between 2005 and 2010, requiring an emergency response, the RNLI launched their own safety video warning of the dangers of tombstoning, uploading the video to the Youtube social networking site.

Fraserburgh Lifeboat coxswain, Victor Sutherland has also issued his own warning.

He told the Herald: “I hope it does not take a local fatality to make people realise how dangerous this is, not only due to the height of the jump and impact when they hit the water but also due to hidden rocks and debris, tidal changes, currents and harbour traffic.

“The gates along the breakwater have been closed to try and deter this activity however youths have also been swimming across the harbour mouth to reach the lighthouse.

“This not only puts themselves at risk but also all the other harbour users.

“If we were called out on an emergency anyone swimming across the harbour mouth would be putting our rescue efforts in jeopardy and ultimately someone else’s life would be at risk.”

Echoing Mr Sutherland’s concerns, harbour master, Andrew Ironside, added: “The first incident we saw was about two weeks ago, harbour staff went across to the youths and chased them away.

“Last Thursday they had returned and again we went across and gave them a stern warning, the youths left at that time however they returned later in the day and the police were called.

“At 18.30 when a commercial boat was coming into the harbour two youths actually jumped into its path. I am really concerned as they do not appear to be listening to any warnings issued or to appreciate the danger that they are placing themselves in and that harbour traffic poses.”

Local videos on the social networking site Youtube include videos from 2006 and 2007 of pier jumping in Fraserburgh and cliff jumping at New Aberdour.

Out of the 139 tombstoning incidents requiring an emergency response, 12 resulted in fatalities and many more resulted in spinal and limb injuries.