River Wear Deaths: Girls Named

24 July 2013, 05:38 | Updated: 30 March 2016, 13:50

Dive teams have recovered the bodies of two teenage girls who went missing as they played in the River Wear at Fatfield.

14 year old Chloe Fowler and 15 year old Toni-Beth Purvis, were spotted in the water near Fatfield in Washington, at around 3pm on Tuesday.

An off-duty policeman and a member of the public tried to save the girls before around 100 emergency service personnel joined the search and rescue effort.

A boy who also attempted to rescue the girls was pulled to safety by the police officer.

Emergency services workers searched throughout the day to try and locate the girls and as evening set in a helicopter searchlight was used to light up the river.

Dozens of people had gathered at the river banks to watch the rescue effort and were left in a state of shock as the news broke that both bodies had been found.

63 year old Paul Cronin, who lives nearby, saw one of the men who had attempted a rescue. He said:
"This gentleman came running up towards the park and I thought it was strange because he was dressed in his boxer shorts, even though it's warm.

He had just crawled out of the river and had nearly drowned himself.

He was screaming at me: 'Can you swim?'''

They went back to the river but the first rescuer was too exhausted to go back in and Mr Cronin said when he got there, he saw no sign of the girls.

A Northumbria Police spokesman said that the two bodies had been taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital and that the families had been informed.