30/08/2019

Champion Sprinter Pleads with River Jumpers after Death of Friend in 2014

Champion sprinter Richard Kilty has urged people to think twice before jumping into the River Tees as he reflects on the death of his close friend in the water in 2014.

Richard Kilty Richard’s friend David Zilkhali was just 20 when he drowned near to the Tees Watersport Centre on a hot July day. David was spending time with a group of friends when he jumped into the river and got into difficulty.

Richard joins Cleveland Police officers in warning people about the dangers of rivers after the Force received reports again last week of young people jumping from the Infinity Bridge in Stockton.

Richard said: “To any youngsters and people who have jumped into the River Tees recently or have thoughts to, please realise you are putting your lives at serious risk.

“It may seem like fun but please believe me there are serious dangers to this. We are very lucky have such a beautiful river and bridges in our area to enjoy, but the river is not safe to swim in.

“I have sadly felt the heartbreak of losing a friend due to swimming and jumping in the River Tees. One of my closest friends David Zilkhali sadly drowned in the river in the summer of 2014. He was swimming innocently with a group of our friends and the current devastatingly took him under.

“That day David did not expect to die and neither did any of his friends expect to witness the heartbreak that happened that day. To this day David’s family and friends like myself still feel the agonising pain and heartbreak that a seemingly innocent day swimming in the river caused. Many lives have been lost due to the current in the River Tees. Your lives and health are far too important to throw away by swimming in the river.

“We have many safe facilities to swim in Teesside but the river is certainly not one. From a proud Teessider please look out for your friends and let’s work together to spread the word to advise any of your friends to not swim in the river or jump from the bridges. The pain you could cause yourself and those closest to you is not worth it. Please be safe.”