A WARNING against the dangers of “tombstoning” has gone out across North Wales following incidents at a Caernarfon quarry and a death in south Gwynedd.
North Wales Police, landowners, water rescue services and councils have joined together to highlight the risks of jumping into water from height – and particularly into disused quarry pools.
Police say the potentially hazardous practice has been receiving widescale exposure on social media and is being promoted as an “extreme sport” to holidaymakers coming to Wales.
At the Dorothea Quarry, in Talysarn, in June, “tombstoners” filmed themselves jumping from ledges over 60ft into water and attracted comments from “enthusiasts” from all over the world.
However, North Wales Police pointed out that the jumpers were trespassing, as the quarry is privately owned. People were entering the quarry, despite the owners erecting fencing, warnings and CCTV.
Supt Nigel Harrison at Caernarfon police station said: “We have a morale and legal responsibility to protect lives, part of which involves pointing out potential dangers.
“Unregulated ‘tombstoning’ is a very dangerous practice and whilst the death of a young woman in May in Fairbourne is still to be examined by HM Coroner, jumping from a height into water appears to be a contributory factor.
“We have seen via social media some very close calls at other locations in the region where those jumping have been painfully close to serious injury. We certainly don’t want to be seen as interfering with people’s fun, but I’m merely saying do so in a safe environment with a regulated and responsible body.”
Nigel Spiers, from the quarry, said: “This (tombstoning) is a dangerous activity and we wholeheartedly support the police.
“We have just commissioned further on-site safety work to be carried out and we apologise for any disruption it may cause.
“We urge the local community to get in touch with the police if they see any dangerous or suspicious activity occurring around Dorothea.”
Helen Church, RNLI community safety partner for Wales and West England, said: “Whether it’s on the coast or at inland bodies of water, we want people to be aware of the risks of jumping into water from height – or ‘tombstoning’.
“The water may be shallower than it looks. Submerged items may not be visible and can cause serious or life-changing injuries if you hit them. The water can be a lot colder than it looks, so the shock of cold water may also make it difficult to swim and in the sea and rivers, currents can sweep you away. It’s really important that people think about the possible dangers.”
Cllr Ioan Thomas, Gwynedd Council cabinet member for economic development, said: “We are urging members of the public not to put themselves in unnecessary danger by taking part in unregulated ‘tombstoning’ into disused quarry pools.”