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Council takes action after Coroner's call over river death
Updated 11:05am Friday 23rd May 2014 in News
SAFETY is to be improved at the bottom of steep riverside steps following the death of a student.
Sope Peters, 20, an economics student at Durham University, drowned in the River Wear last October after a night out in the city centre.
The Nigerian-born student, whose family live in the USA, is believed to have fallen into the river while he was two times over the drink-drive limit.
County Durham Coroner Andrew Tweddle, who recorded an inquest verdict of accidental death, called for improvements after hearing that Mr Peters may have gone down steep steps in a dimly-lit alley beside Klute nightclub, at the bottom of which is an extremely low wall facing the river.
Durham County Council has revealed that it is to install a barrier at the bottom of the steps following Mr Tweddle’s comments.
Adrian White, Durham County Council’s head of transport, said: “We were asked by the coroner to look at safety on a specific section of the River Wear following the death of Sope Peters.
“As a result, we are arranging for a short section of barrier to be installed at the bottom of Drury Lane steps.”
Mr Peters’ body was not found for five weeks, despite extensive searches of the river.
Another Durham student has since lost his life after ending up in the river following a night out.
Luke Pearce, 19, an engineering student from Hounslow, West London, went missing in the early hours of Sunday, May 11, after a night out in the same area of the city.
Extensive searches of the riverbank and river were helped by some of the popular teenager’s fellow students.
His body was found by rowers near Baths Bridge on Sunday, May 18.
The university says it will look at the issue of student safety in the wake of the two tragedies.
Prof Graham Towl, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Deputy Warden, said earlier this week: “We do a great deal at the moment (to promote student safety). Of course, times like this make us reflect to see what more we could potentially do.
“Certainly, we will be looking at this with our key partners in the area to see what the lessons may be for us.”
A full inquest into Mr Pearce’s death will be held once police investigations on behalf of Mr Tweddle have been completed.
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