The family of a teenager who died after drowning in Aberavon have issued a heartfelt plea for more safety measures on the beach and pier. David Ejimofor died on Monday, June 19, after jumping off the pier with friends as part of what his family have said is a “yearly coming of age ceremony” .
The 15-year-old had finished his GCSE exams on Monday before heading to the beach with friends. His parents Alex and Maria Ejimofor said they did not know he was going to be going in the water as David could not swim.
There was a large emergency service presence on the beach but sadly David could not be saved. His parents who have three other children are now calling for more safety measures on the pier.
While visiting the hundreds of floral tributes that have been laid in memory of his son with his wife and other family members, Alex said: “It was very very emotional. We can’t cope. He was my third boy. They are devastated. Everyone is devastated, the whole family.”
Recalling Monday he said that David had finished his GCSE exams just hours earlier. “It was his last exam, he did his GCSEs on Monday. He doesn’t know how to swim so I thought he was just taking his bicycle to go and ride around, I never knew they were going to do this.
He said that when he arrived at the beach everyone was “trying their best to save David.” Everyone has been very supportive. His school, the local parish priest, all his teachers, they have all been so supportive. Alex and his family have lived in Port Talbot for six years but did not know about the supposed end of exams ritual to jump off the pier.
“I was so proud of him and so was the community, the Port Talbot community. Everybody loved him, the way they have spoken about him. He was a very handsome boy, very helpful, he was a very good boy, very good boy.”
The family have now called for authorities to put more safety measures on the beach and pier. “We need to see more safeguarding measures down here so another life is not claimed. If there’s anything the council or the government can do to put more safety measures on the pier then that’s what we want. We want to save lives not lose lives. Another life can’t be claimed. If there’s anything anyone can do we would be grateful.”
Emily, David’s aunt was also at the beach and issued an appeal to the public to get in touch with the family or the police if they had any footage from the evening.
“There is no secure gate, he railings are laughable because you can knock them over, there is a sign there but it is well known that every year kids come in here and jump off.
“There are no life buoys, only one I can see here now. There are no ladders, had he been able to get hold of a ladder he could have helped himself back up. There needs to be a ladder as a deterrent.
“We would like to plead to the public if there was anybody around from 6pm to 8pm on Monday if they have any CCTV to give it to us as the family or the police. We would very much appreciate it.”
Associated British Ports, who own the pier, said in a statement: “We will provide appropriate assistance as required to the relevant authorities to support their inquiries into the incident.” It added: “We will continue to work with local stakeholders and partners regarding safeguarding at Aberavon beach.”
A Neath Port Talbot Council spokesperson said: “We are aware that there are two petitions being organised by local residents and we will make sure that these receive attention within the multi-agency group that is co-ordinating the response to this very sad incident.
“Following the tragic incident at Aberavon Beach, we want to reassure residents that safety is of paramount importance to us and our partners. A range of emergency services currently operate at the beach and are dedicated to ensuring the safety of all those who use it.
“In the event that someone witnesses an incident or believes there is a potential risk to individuals in the water, we strongly encourage them to take immediate action by calling 999. Dedicated lifeguards, coastguard, and other emergency response teams are trained professionals who are prepared to respond swiftly and effectively to any emergency situations.
“Aberavon Beach is equipped with signage and advice to promote water safety. These signs provide guidance on swimming in designated areas and the importance of following lifeguards’ instructions. We urge all beach users to take note of these signs, familiarise themselves with the safety advice provided, and ensure that they are aware of the potential risks and how to respond to emergencies.”
His family have issued an emotional tribute to him through South Wales Police and launched a petition on change.org calling for action to be taken to prevent future tragedies. In the petition, they said that David had been “encouraged by friends to join them in jumping off the pier”. They said it was a a “yearly coming of age ceremony” practiced after GCSEs and A-levels that the entire community is aware of”.
They wrote: “If everyone including schools are aware of this practice, surely we would expect the Council to have better safeguarding measures in place especially at this time of year. David Ejimofor was not the first to suffer such a fate at the hands of this pier. We do not want David to be another statistic. We want his name to serve as an end of this unfortunate trail. It is for this reason that we seek change and reform by improving safeguarding measures at Aberavon Beach.”
Article taken from Wales Online.