Stark warning issued by tombstoning victim as jump craze returns to Old Portsmouth Hot Walls

A MAN who was paralysed after jumping off South Parade Pier has warned Portsmouth tombstoners – don’t do it.

Wednesday, 10th July 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Wednesday, 10th July 2019, 10:31 am
People tombstoning off the Round Tower, Old Portsmouth. Picture: Proud of Portsmouth

The warmer weather has seen children tombstoning – leaping 6m into the sea from the Hot Walls in Old Portsmouth.

Sonny, said: ‘All I would say to these kids is don’t do it – I’m proof of the consequences. People have been doing it for years and I’m not sure if we’ll ever be able to stop it. At that age you don’t think it will happen to you. It’s only if it happens to someone in their friendship group that they’ll really take notice.’

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People tombstoning off the Round Tower, Old Portsmouth. Picture: Proud of Portsmouth

RNLI crewman, Aaron Gent, was involved in Sonny’s rescue.

He said: ‘We see kids doing it all the time and I’ve been there when it has gone wrong. It makes you wince every time you see it. There are really strong tides and it’s easy to be swept into the Solent.’

Mr Gent said he was also involved in the search for Marco de Araujo, who was swept away from the same area and drowned after trying to rescue two girls who had got into difficulty – a tragedy which showed the strength of the area’s currents.

Other dangers include the shock of entering cold water – even at the end of June the temperature of the Solent is only 15C – and marine traffic.

Sonny Wells from Leigh park who was paralysed after jumping from South Parade Pier. Picture; Ian Hargreaves (131480-2)

Aaron said: ‘The sudden shock of entering cold water can kill. That breath before people jump can sometimes be their last.’

As reported at the weekend, a group of youngsters was jumping in front of the Hayling Ferry and according to skipper Colin Hill, were in danger of being struck or caught in the propellers.

The situation has prompted police to issue a warning. 

A spokesperson said: ‘We would warn anyone that they should only swim in designated areas and be aware of the dangers of jumping into the sea from height. Submerged objects like rocks may not be visible from the surface and the shock of cold water can make it difficult to swim.’ 

The warm weather has seen the return of tombstoners jumping from the historic Hot Walls.