Warning of ‘risk to life’ from Exmouth seafront ‘tombstoning’

PUBLISHED: 15:51 21 June 2017 | UPDATED: 17:26 21 June 2017

Divers at Mamhead slipway. Picture: Ian Dowell

Divers at Mamhead slipway. Picture: Ian Dowell


A warning has been issued after youngsters were seen ‘tombstoning’ into the water on Exmouth seafront.

Local resident Ian Dowell said teenagers were seen leaping from Mamhead Slipway and the adjacent sea wall on Tuesday evening.

Mr Dowell, of Shelly Road, said: “It was frightening. Most locals know there are rocks in the shallow waters around the slipway, but these youngsters didn’t seem to worry.

“A concerned boatman saw what was going on and came across in his RIB, shouting a warning of the rocks beneath, but they carried on regardless.”

Exmouth Coastguard station officer Martin Freeland said a group had previously been warned about the dangers.

He said: “It’s particularly dangerous there because of the current, and also there are underwater structures you can’t see, so it’s really dangerous.

“We don’t recommend tombstoning anywhere because you don’t know what you’re jumping into.

“It’s not just about the depth. We’ve had 150 years of dock activities, so god knows what’s down there.”

An East Devon District Council (EDDC) spokesperson said: “The currents going past Mamhead Slipway are extremely strong and we would always advise that no-one jumps into the water at this point. This is extremely dangerous and a potential risk to life.”

District councillor Tom Wright, EDDC’s portfolio holder for the environment, added: “Jumping into water from height – or tombstoning – can have severe and life threatening consequences and people need to stop and seriously consider how hazardous this kind of activity can be.

“Not only that, but they may also pose a risk to others, who may risk their lives trying to save them.

“Water changes depth with the tide and may be shallower than it appears. Submerged items may not be visible and can cause serious injury or paralysis if you hit them.

“Then there is the shock of cold water, which may make it difficult to swim and can even lead to a heart attack.

“Anyone considering jumping into the sea from height should always check for hazards in the water like submerged rocks, check the depth of the water because a jump of 10 metres requires a depth of at least 5 metres.

“Never jump while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or peer pressure and always check for access because it may be impossible to get out of the water.

“However, we strongly advise that you should never jump in the first place. Consider instead coasteering with a registered company, which may be a safer alternative.”

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