COMMENT: What will it take to stop daredevils tombstoning?

The arrogance of youth can be dangerous, as Sonny Wells knows only too well. At the age of 20 and in high spirits, the former soldier leapt into the sea from South Parade Pier, and broke his neck.

Tuesday, 9th July 2019, 5:58 pm

He was instantly paralysed by the 20ft drop into just three feet of seawater. 

Sonny, from Waterlooville, was changed forever. 

And now the RNLI are warning other young people that paralysis or even death could be their fate if they continue to jump from Portsmouth landmarks into the water.

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Known as tombstoning, it is not a new phenomenon.

It has been happening for decades and the risks are still as high. 

During the warmer weather sun worshippers flock to the seaside to cool off and there has been an increase in the number of youngsters jumping from the Hot Walls, Old Portsmouth. 

At the weekend children were jumping off the pontoon in Eastney into the path of the Hayling Ferry – risking becoming entangled in its large propellers or crushed by the ferry boat itself.  

What will it take to stop young people, who think they are invincible and that bad things simply won’t happen to them? 

Police and the RNLI have issued warnings to those foolish enough to contemplate it on hot days, to think again. 

They have spelt out the risks of shock from jumping into cold water, as well as the danger of hitting something. 

But surely the only way to get through to them is education – both at home and at school. 

A warning in assembly perhaps? 

Parents must take responsibility. If they are happy for their children to head to the beach on their own, they must make clear the dire consequences of what can happen if a dare goes wrong. 

Because, in the words of Sonny Wells, ‘You don’t think it will happen to you’.