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West Bridgford
Thursday, 6 May 2021

Drone video: Warning after two 11-year-old girls rescued from the frozen River Trent

Fire crews from West Bridgford, Highfields, London Road and Newark Fire Station attended the water rescue. 

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Two 11-year-old girls had a lucky escape after walking over a frozen part of the River Trent and becoming trapped.

One of the girls fell through the ice into the freezing water before the alarm was raised by a passer-by. The other made it to an island but was stranded with no way back over the broken ice.

Drone footage capturing the dramatic moment one of the girls was brought to safety has been released today by Nottinghamshire Police in a bid to highlight the dangers of entering the River Trent, especially when it is icy.

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The incident was just a few hundred metres away from the area where 12-year-old Owen Jenkins tragically died after being dragged under by a strong current while trying to rescue two friends who had got into difficulty in the water at Beeston Weir in July 2017. Owen’s mum Nicola also spoke out today following yesterday’s incident.

A joint rescue operation was launched by Nottinghamshire Police, Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service and East Midlands Ambulance Service to rescue the girls and bring them to safety after the incident was reported, near to St Mary’s Church, Holgate, at around 4.45pm yesterday (Saturday 13 February).

Fire crews from West Bridgford, Highfields, London Road and Newark Fire Station attended the water rescue.

The first girl was able to be supported in walking out the water as she was closer to the edge, however to rescue the second girl, crews had to use an inflatable piece of equipment called a pathway to bring her safely back across the frozen water. The girls – who were unharmed but extremely cold – were then left in the care of the ambulance service.

Nicola Jenkins, who founded the Open Water Education Network (OWEN) water safety programme in her son Owen’s memory after his death, urged children to stay away from the River Trent and for parents to speak to their youngsters about the dangers.

“When it comes to ice children don’t seem to see the danger. They just think it is a bit of fun,” she said.

“A lot of the ice looks thick but it isn’t. Where the water is shallow it can be thick but when it gets deeper it is thin and that’s where the difficulty lies and you can become stranded.

“There is no point even trying it because we don’t have thick ice like in some countries. It is best to stay away – it is not worth the risk.

“Parents need to be more open with their children and explain the dangers of open water and ice in cold weather. Even on the hottest days the water is really dangerous but cold water shock can be really quick to take hold.”

Mrs Jenkins also urged people to download the What3words app which can pinpoint a location for emergency services to find people when they get stranded.

Chief Inspector Duncan Southall, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “The girls are extremely lucky to have been unharmed, particularly as one of them had fallen into the water through the ice.

“The other girl managed to make it to an island in the middle of the water but was then stuck there.

“Luckily a passer-by saw them in difficulty and called the emergency services. If it hadn’t been for this person raising the alarm there could have been tragic consequences. It was getting dark at the time and was freezing cold. They are incredibly lucky this person saw them.

“They could easily have drowned or suffered from hypothermia had it not been for the fact this person was able to call the police, fire and ambulance service colleagues who got there quickly to rescue them.

“I hope this serves as a stark reminder to others that it is not safe to play on the ice as it can easily crack and put people in great danger. Icy water can be incredibly dangerous.

“This happened very close to where another tragedy happened just over three years ago. It is really important that people stay away from the river as we don’t want other families to suffer the same devastation of losing a loved one.”

David Stevenson, group manager at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “We have seen a number of people playing on frozen water over the past few days and we want to reiterate how dangerous this is.

“Running, walking or playing on frozen water can pose a huge risk of life. The ice may appear thicker than it is, and can end in a serious incident.

“Luckily for us, the girls were rescued and are ok, however this will not be the case for everyone.

“You can very quickly develop hypothermia from cold weather conditions. Immediately after falling into water, your movements are likely to be impaired due to the cold, and it is likely that you will be gasping due to the shock of the temperature. We cannot emphasise enough that cold water shock can turn into tragedy very quickly.

“If you are out and about in these icy conditions, please ensure you stick to roads and pathways, and stay away from the water’s edge.”