'It's absolutely disgusting this has been allowed to happen' - aunt of young man found dead in Sheffield canal basin backs safety campaign

Two petitions calling for safety improvements have now been signed more than 1,600 times between them
Two petitions calling for safety improvements have now been signed more than 1,600 times between them
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The aunt of a teenager found dead in a Sheffield canal basin has branded existing safety measures 'disgusting' as she backed a campaign to prevent future tragedies.

Alex Wilson's body was pulled from the water at Victoria Quays last month, two days after the 19-year-old had been reported missing following a night out.

Alex Wilson was found dead in the canal basin following a night out in July

Alex Wilson was found dead in the canal basin following a night out in July

Two petitions calling for extra safety measures at the waterfront have since been launched, between them amassing more than 1,600 signatures.

Mr Wilson's aunt Siobhan Macmanus, who is among the supporters, lambasted what she called an 'absolutely disgusting' lack of existing safety measures.

Writing on the Change website, where a petition launched by Danny Cooke has more than 760 signatures, she said: "This is where my nephew Alex Wilson tragically lost his life just a few weeks ago. I can't believe there are no safety measures in place. No lighting, no barriers, no signs.

"You can just walk straight in if you don't know it's there and once you're in there's no way of getting out. Absolutely disgusting that this has been allowed to happen!"

Adam Miles drowned in Victoria Quays following a work party

Adam Miles drowned in Victoria Quays following a work party

That petition has also been signed by Laura Burditt, whose former colleague Adam Miles, aged 20, from Killamarsh, drowned in the canal basin following a Christmas party at the nearby Hilton Hotel in 2015.

"We can never change what happened and it breaks my heart but we can try to help other families, friends and colleagues and prevent them from feeling the heartache and devastation we continue to feel," she wrote.

Claire Mantle, meanwhile, said her son works at the quayside and it can be dangerous, especially at night.

"When the stones get wet it's slippery underfoot. Someone could slip and fall so quickly," she wrote.

Flowers left at Victoria Quays in tribute to Alex Wilson

Flowers left at Victoria Quays in tribute to Alex Wilson

"There are no rails or fencing along the canal, no proper lighting, no CCTV in place. My son recently had his car broken into and a window smashed in. It's a beautiful place to visit but more needs to be done to make it safe and stop people getting hurt or losing their lives."

Another petition, which was launched by Hannah Padmore on Sheffield Council's website, has now been signed more than 850 times.

It calls for new barriers to be installed along with luminous ladders to help anyone who falls in the water to get out.

The Canal & River Trust is responsible for maintaining the Sheffield & Tinsley Canal, including the waterfront at Victoria Quays.

In March 2016, following an inquest into Mr Miles' death, a coroner raised safety concerns about the lack of railings or other effective barriers segregating drinkers from the canal, and the absence of any means of escape for anyone falling into the water.

Stephen Williamson, the charity's safety advisor, said its thoughts were with Mr Wilson's family and friends.

He said the charity was investigating the circumstances of his death and had already launched a 'comprehensive site review', which would be completed pending the outcome of the inquest.

"At that point we will be able to complete our thorough review and consider what action may be necessary to ensure that our canals and rivers remain as safe as possible, whilst still being accessible and enjoyable places to visit," he said.

Tributes were paid to Mr Wilson, who had a twin sister, following his death. His grandmother called him the 'most lovable, sweetest' person and a former work colleague remembered him as 'helpful, funny and witty'.