A British teenager has died after jumping into a canal with his friends, even though he could not swim.
The Manchester Evening News reports that 13-year-old Flavio Rafael Pizarro, known to his friends as Rafael, died nine days after being rescued from the Rochdale canal in Middleton, U.K. Rafael allegedly jumped into the canal with his friends to get over his fear of water and inability to swim.
His family is now calling on the Canal and River Trust to put up more signage in a bid to warn others about the dangers of jumping into the water.
Rafael’s mother, Maria, told the Manchester Evening News: “I lost my son. How many children have to die to be able to put some signage in place?”
There is reportedly no signage at that part of the canal warning civilians of the dangers of swimming.
Rafael had been playing football with friends, when they all went down to the canal to join others who were already swimming there. Despite being unable to swim, Rafael jumped into the canal to join his friends from St. Anne’s Academy. But Rafael reportedly panicked and began flailing his arms and gasping for air. He allegedly spent 20 minutes under water.
Rafael’s friends tried to save him, but it wasn’t until emergency services arrived and opened a canal lock to let water out that his body was recovered from the canal. He was given CPR and immediately rushed to a local hospital.
After being placed on life support due to brain injuries sustained during the incident, Rafael died in his hospital bed.
His mother said of her son: “My thoughts are that on that particular day he tried to overcome his fear of the water, because he was seeing his friends jumping into the water as well.”
According to BBC News, Detective Inspector Kate Atton from Greater Manchester Police said: "Rafael's death is believed to be a tragic accident. I would urge people, especially children, to take care around the water and try not to swim anywhere other than supervised swimming pools."
Detective Sgt. O’Callaghan, another Manchester detective, added that it is not feasible to place warning signs around the area because it is so "vast." He added that after the incident, police visited nearby schools to warn students of the dangers of swimming in the canal.
Steve Astles, safety advisor at the Canal and River Trust said: “We’re are deeply saddened about the tragic accident which happened in June where Rafael drowned in the Rochdale Canal and offer our sincere condolences to his family and friends.
"We are aware now that this particular lock on the Rochdale Canal is a known hotspot for young people jumping in the canal during the summer.
"The Trust is working with the local community and Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service on a targeted campaign to educate people about the dangers of playing and swimming in open water which will include installing signage at known hotspots along the canals in Greater Manchester.”