Call to improve riverside safety after death of Durham University student Sope Peters

The Northern Echo: ACCIDENTAL DEATH: Sope Peters ACCIDENTAL DEATH: Sope Peters

A CORONER is calling for action to keep drinkers safe after a Durham University student drowned during a night out.

Andrew Tweddle voiced concerns over the dangers of steep steps and low riverside walls in Durham at the conclusion of the inquest into the death of Sopefoluwa Peters, known as Sope.

The body of the 20-year-old was found in the River Wear five weeks after he vanished.

He spent the evening drinking with friends on October 29 and was last seen on CCTV outside Osbornes Bar, near Elvet Bridge, just after midnight.

The economics student, who lived in the city's Highgate, had been drinking with friends at home before heading out at 11pm.

He said he was going to Klute nightclub, near Elvet Bridge, and would meet them later.

At the inquest in Crook today (Wednesday, April 9), Detective Sergeant Steve Smyth, of Durham Police, said the last signal on his mobile phone was at 12.08am.

It is believed Mr Peters, who is from a Nigerian family living in North Virginia in the United States, may have gone down a steep set of stairs in the poorly lit alley next to Klute.

At the bottom is a wall just 69 cm high running alongside the river.

DS Smyth added: “He appeared to be extremely intoxicated and he was on his own at all times.”

An extensive search was carried out by the emergency services before his body was found on December 8.

A post-mortem did not reveal any injuries and tests showed he was twice the drink drive limit.

Mr Tweddle recorded a verdict of accidental death and said he was concerned about the low height of the river wall and that the steps where “dangerous and difficult.”

“I recognise that Durham being what it is, a quirky place with its own nooks and crannies, but a balance needs to be struck,” he said.

“I am not suggesting it is anybody’s fault but clearly after hearing the evidence that I have I believe that it should be brought to the attention of the local authority.”

Mr Peters’ uncle Lanre said: “He was an absolutely fantastic guy with a promising future ahead of him, which has just been tragically cut short.

“I walked the steps and thought how can someone with this level of alcohol negotiate these steps. If anything can be done about it that would be good.”

Dr Anthony Bash, acting principal at Hatfield College, Durham University, said: “We marked Sope’s passing with a memorial event to celebrate his life.

“In order to recognise the hard work of the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team that helped the Police to search for Sope, the students at Hatfield College have raised about £1,000 for the charity.”

Comments (6)

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5:57pm Wed 9 Apr 14

Voice-of-reality says...

One wonders whether falling into a river is:
a) the fault of the river,
b) the fault of a 69cm wall,
c) human error and drunkness.

Accidents will happen, and whilst it is very sad, should a riverside vista be ruined because of it - or should people apply common sense. The steps in question are also not right next to the river. A great shame but there is no need for a knee-jerk reaction
One wonders whether falling into a river is: a) the fault of the river, b) the fault of a 69cm wall, c) human error and drunkness. Accidents will happen, and whilst it is very sad, should a riverside vista be ruined because of it - or should people apply common sense. The steps in question are also not right next to the river. A great shame but there is no need for a knee-jerk reaction Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 14

6:59pm Wed 9 Apr 14

nigel d says...

Why not enforce pubs to stop selling more alcohol to already intoxicated students, when drinks in wits are out.
Why not enforce pubs to stop selling more alcohol to already intoxicated students, when drinks in wits are out. nigel d
  • Score: 12

9:38am Thu 10 Apr 14

DURHAM CITY says...

Voice-of-reality wrote:
One wonders whether falling into a river is:
a) the fault of the river,
b) the fault of a 69cm wall,
c) human error and drunkness.

Accidents will happen, and whilst it is very sad, should a riverside vista be ruined because of it - or should people apply common sense. The steps in question are also not right next to the river. A great shame but there is no need for a knee-jerk reaction
I agree where do you draw the line
[quote][p][bold]Voice-of-reality[/bold] wrote: One wonders whether falling into a river is: a) the fault of the river, b) the fault of a 69cm wall, c) human error and drunkness. Accidents will happen, and whilst it is very sad, should a riverside vista be ruined because of it - or should people apply common sense. The steps in question are also not right next to the river. A great shame but there is no need for a knee-jerk reaction[/p][/quote]I agree where do you draw the line DURHAM CITY
  • Score: 7

5:52pm Thu 10 Apr 14

durhamchap says...

I'm sorry this young man died but I fail to see what we can do to make rivers safe from drunken people.I grew up in Durham and in my late teens and early twenties often went out to various Durham pubs and sometimes I had too much to drink - but never felt the need to jump in the Wear just as I never felt the need to walk out in the path of a train or lorry.
Perhaps if people didn't drink so much or if there friends would look after them and see them safely home we wouldn't have such tragedies as we have recently seen in both York and Durham.
I'm sorry this young man died but I fail to see what we can do to make rivers safe from drunken people.I grew up in Durham and in my late teens and early twenties often went out to various Durham pubs and sometimes I had too much to drink - but never felt the need to jump in the Wear just as I never felt the need to walk out in the path of a train or lorry. Perhaps if people didn't drink so much or if there friends would look after them and see them safely home we wouldn't have such tragedies as we have recently seen in both York and Durham. durhamchap
  • Score: 3

11:00am Fri 11 Apr 14

rob-durham says...

I agree with the above comments it is a matter of personal responsibility and a failure of bar staff to obay the law. We do not need high fences alongside the river. A one-off incident from a city population of approx 50,000 does not justify a knee-jerk reaction.
I agree with the above comments it is a matter of personal responsibility and a failure of bar staff to obay the law. We do not need high fences alongside the river. A one-off incident from a city population of approx 50,000 does not justify a knee-jerk reaction. rob-durham
  • Score: 2

9:46pm Mon 14 Apr 14

Chippy70 says...

I agree with all the comments above . I am coming up 70 now and born and bred on the outskirts of the City.. I have had many a well oiled night along with many friends in Durham. Not one of us ever ventured anywhere near that river. Way back in the 50's up to the 80's the big meeting used to be hell on earth and still I cant remember anyone loosing their life in the river.. Please Durham City Council dont start erecting great horrible looking fences or walls. Maybe put some warning signs up but dont go mad with them either. Please let common sense prevail here.
I agree with all the comments above . I am coming up 70 now and born and bred on the outskirts of the City.. I have had many a well oiled night along with many friends in Durham. Not one of us ever ventured anywhere near that river. Way back in the 50's up to the 80's the big meeting used to be hell on earth and still I cant remember anyone loosing their life in the river.. Please Durham City Council dont start erecting great horrible looking fences or walls. Maybe put some warning signs up but dont go mad with them either. Please let common sense prevail here. Chippy70
  • Score: 0

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