South Yorkshire MP speaks of dangers of open water in Parliament after teenager Sam Haycock’s tragic death
A South Yorkshire MP has spoken out about the dangers of open water in Parliament, after the tragic death of teenager Sam Haycock.
Samuel had visited Ulley Reservoir in Rotherham with friends on May 28 when he got into difficulty in the water.
Emergency services responded to the incident at around 3pm, and specialist search teams made a desperate attempt to find him.
He was pronounced dead at the scene, having drowned.
His death has prompted his family to set up a campaign group to call for more safety equipment at open water sites.
And now, Sarah Champion, MP for Rotherham, has thrown her support behind the campaign and has called for action to prevent drownings in open water after meeting with Sam’s parents, Simon and Gaynor.
In the House of Commons, she said: “The heartbreaking incident at Ulley Reservoir this year cost the life of Sam Haycock, a nationally successful judoka with a bright future ahead of him.
“I was deeply moved by Sam’s story and by his parent’s determination to prevent further deaths.
“Sam’s passion for judo had already seen him compete at the highest levels, and his natural talent was plain for all to see. His young life, and his promising future, have been cut appallingly short.
“I am committed to doing everything I can to support Simon and Gaynor’s campaign to prevent similar needless deaths. His family’s strength, courage, and resolve to improve open water safety are inspirational.
“It is vital that we take action to avoid future tragedies. Sam’s parents’ brave campaign can secure important changes and they will have my full support in their essential work in his memory.”
Speaking during Justice Questions, The MP said: “Too many people die in open water because of lack of life saving equipment. In May this year, my constituent, 16-year-old Sam Haycock drowned in a nearby lake.
“His friends tried to save his life but were unable to access the life belt in time as it was padlocked to prevent vandalism.”
The Criminal Damage Act 1971 does not include specific offences of interfering with lifesaving equipment such as life belts and throw lines.
Sarah also called on the Government to commit to ensuring vital lifesaving equipment is readily accessible.
“Does the Minister agree that it is vital that appropriate, and specific, penalties are in place to protect the equipment that could have saved Sam’s life?” she asked.
Responding for the Government, Robert Buckland, the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, said: “The Honourable Lady raises a case that I think shocks and concerns us all and I would be more than happy to talk to her directly about these issues.
“As she knows, the law of criminal damage is being reformed in other respects in the current Bill but I want to make sure that we reflect the often devastating consequences of thoughtless and criminal acts of damage against vital pieces of lifesaving equipment such as the one she raised.”