Crookes Valley Park drowning: More ‘no swimming’ signs planned as swimmers say tragedy will not put them off

Leisure bosses have urged people to stay out of the lake at a Sheffield park after a tragic death last night.

Monday, 19th July 2021, 4:06 pm
Updated Monday, 19th July 2021, 4:06 pm

But today swimmers were back in the water at Crookes Valley Prk, saying the suspected drowning had not put them off.

And it was also claimed today that people had been using emergency life belts as floats.

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Emergency Services at Crookes Valley Park last night. A man's body was found in the water.

Councillor Alison Teal, Sheffield Council’s executive member for parks and leisure, said more signs warning against swimming would be erected.

She said: “This is an absolute tragedy and my thoughts are with everyone affected.

“We are in contact with the emergency services, who attended yesterday evening.

“While we don’t yet know the full details of what happened, we need to remind people – please, please, don’t swim in the water at Crookes Valley Park.

Swimming in Crookes Valley Park today

“There are signs up at the park and we ask people to stay out of the water, which is not safe for swimming.

“We know some people do want to swim outdoors, especially in this heat, but it’s really important that it’s in a safe location.”

Firefighters also warned against swimming other than at a proper swimming pool or in organised open water swimming groups.

Kamal Sangha, who runs the Dam House pub and restaurant near the lake, was shocked to hear of the death.

Rolandas Cesana at Crookes Valley Park

He said police had visited at around 7pm and said that they would be closing the road. He said he brought all the people who had been using the outside area of the pub indoors at that point, and customers in the car park moved their vehicles.

He told how emergency services were working on the opposite side of the lake to the Dam House, in the corner closest to the children’s play area, near Crookes Valley Road

“It was a shock to hear about it,” he said.

"A lot of people have been swimming in the lake. Yesterday there appeared to be people using the life rings that are posted around the lake as floats, which I would imagine is illegal.

Crookes Valley Park today

"Our staff were still here until the police had left.”

Swimmers returned to the water at the lake again today – and said although they were saddened to hear of the death, they still felt safe swimming there.

Rolandas Cesana, aged 28, from Hillsborough, said he swam in the lake all year round, and still planned to do so.

He said: “I come here every day. I never once thought it may be dangerous, because I am capable of taking responsibilty for myself.

"It is terribly sad that someone has died in the lake. But it must have happened for a reason.

"We are all responsible for ourselves, and it is my responsibility to make sure I look after myself. I am a conscientious human being.

Valerio Giovanni

"I don’t know if drink was involved in what happened last night, but I always swim sober.

"Hearing that someone has died has not put me off, and I will still swim here.

"I feel very sorry for the family of the poor man who has died, and I hope something is learned from what happened.”

Also swimming was 61-year-old Terry Gallagher.

Terry, from Norfolk Park, is also a regular swimmer at Crookes Valley. He said the tragedy would not put him off.

He said: “I think it’s safe. I feel I am swimming within my limits and I think if you are within your limits you’re safe. I am usually here with a larger group.

"There are around 900 members of the Facebook group Sheffield Outdoor Plungers. A lot of people who come here are coming here in groups of twos or threes.

"We feel it is generally healthy, safe, and free for people who can’t afford things like gym membership.

“People need to know their limits.”

“If they said they were going to ban it, I think it would be very unfair,” he said. “What has happened is sad and awful for the family of the person who has died.”

Dog walker John Barber, who lives near the park, said his thoughts were with the dead man’s family.

But he said he understood there had been other incidents at the lake in the past.

He said on one occasion he had talked to someone on one of the benches which surround the water who had said they were there to remember a loved one who had died there.

But he said he had heard from a gardener that there had also been an incident a few months ago where a swimmer had got into trouble, with a dog walker jumping into the water to save him.

He said: “I’m worried that the council may use it as a reason to sell the park and turn it into a car park for the university or something. From that point of view, I think swimmers are being selfish.”

Emma Riley, aged 22, was shocked to hear that someone had died in the lake, and said her sympathy went out to his family. She said: “I only live five minutes away, and I have swum in there. I’m one of those people who have been swimming there in the morning. I have enjoyed swimming my whole life.

"In weather like this I’m amazed no one noticed in time to save him. There are life rings here.”

Valerio Giovanni, aged 29, was at Crookes Valley Park sunbathing with friends yesterday. He was also shocked to hear someone had died in the lake.

He said he was surprised people wanted to swim there, because he did not think the water looked very clean.

“I was certainly not planning on swimming in there,” he said. “There is a lot of rubbish in there and the water looks dirty. There are masks and things in there. Why would you want to swim somewhere like that?

"I’d sooner travel a couple of hours to somewhere like Whitby or Scarborough.”

Terry Gallagher at Crookes Valley Park