Darrell Teal inquest: Coroner's 'think twice' plea to people who jump from Kirkby Lonsdale's Devil's Bridge

The Westmorland Gazette: 'THINK TWICE': South and East Cumbria Coroner Ian Smith 'THINK TWICE': South and East Cumbria Coroner Ian Smith

A CORONER has urged thrillseekers to ‘think twice’ before jumping from Kirkby Lonsdale’s Devil’s Bridge.

Ian Smith’s warning came at the inquest into the death of 22-year-old Darrell Teal who died after ‘tombstoning’ from the bridge into the River Lune in July.

Mr Teal, of Manchester, who had travelled to Cumbria with four friends and his twin brother Dale, failed to resurface after hitting the cold water, passing out and being swept away by the river’s current.

A post-mortem found Mr Teal drowned but showed no obvious external injuries sustained from the jump.

And it revealed that there was no alcohol or drugs present in his body.

His brother Dale said that the group had made an ‘impulsive’ decision to travel to Devil’s Bridge after Darrell discussed it with a friend.

All other members of the group had successfully made the jump ahead of Darrell on the sunny afternoon of July 21.

Off-duty police sergeant Martin Smith, who was walking his dog nearby, said he heard shouts from the river and saw people looking for Mr Teal.

He said he had previously stopped people from jumping from the bridge and explained that, although a local by-law prohibited it, people still did so regularly in warm weather.

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Recording a verdict of accidental death, South and East Cumbria Coroner Mr Smith said: “This was somebody trying to do something they thought they would enjoy coming horribly a cropper.

“People are responsible for their own safety and there is a by-law on that bridge saying people shouldn’t jump.

“People have jumped off that bridge on a regular basis over many years. It’s a dangerous thing to do.

“You think of water as flexible and easy to jump into but it could almost be like hitting a solid object from that height and, occasionally, someone gets it wrong and enters the water not quite at the position they intend to. I think that’s what happened to Darrell.

“He went into the cold water, gasped and passed out and if you pass out under water you’re in serious trouble. He was unconscious immediately and would have known nothing.

“I hope people think twice before they do this because of the warning that it’s not just potentially dangerous, but potentially fatal.”

Under the local by-law, enforced by two warning signs at either side of the river, anyone caught jumping from Devil’s Bridge can be fined.

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