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Show more comments. The boy balances on the dizzyingly high sea wall at Plymouth Hoe, looking back at the friends egging him on from behind a safety rail only a few feet away. Leap of faith: A boy jumps into the sea at Dead Man's Cove in Plymouth this week risking his life among many other youngster every day. Earlier this week, the Mail published a disturbing photograph of another young boy leaping from this very point. Capturing him frozen in mid-air, it was a memorable image but — as became apparent on a visit to Plymouth earlier this week — he is just one of dozens who risk their lives here every day.
Tombstoning: A montage shows the stages of the terrifying craze of jumping 65ft off the sea wall into 'Dead Man's Cove'. Fearless: One youngster leaps off the wall, which has lead to a number of serious injuries.
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They include shots of tombstoners performing stunts like back-flips or forward somersaults. In the past eight years, this perilous pursuit has claimed the lives of 20 people and left more than 60 seriously injured, according to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency. These figures include two suspected tombstoning incidents in the last month alone.
'Tombstoning' deaths: Two men pulled from the sea in Torquay named
Witnesses said he drowned after being swept away by strong currents. Tragic: Ben Thompson, 20, who was left paralysed after breaking his neck after dangerously tombstoning has warned others of the risks. They warn of the changing tides, which make it difficult to gauge water depth, as well as the dangers of hitting submerged objects or being dragged under by unexpected currents.
But judging by the deadly spectacle every day at Plymouth Hoe, this advice is clearly failing to hit home. For much of the afternoon the area seems like any other British seaside stop-off — with holidaying families enjoying Devon cream teas as they gaze out across the waters of Plymouth Sound. Among them is year-old Lewis, about to make his inaugural leap. By now, a small crowd of onlookers has gathered, some of them tourists with cameras.
tombstoning - Wiktionary
This is not unusual, according to the tombstoners. Today, the mob is to be disappointed, for Lewis eventually thinks better of the stunt. Shamefacedly, he makes his way back to his friends, and his place on the sea wall is quickly taken by others barely older than him.
Lemming-like, they push past him, some only in swimming shorts, others in wet-suits, and start jumping one or two at a time. As each drops towards what could so easily be death or terrible injury, any sensible onlooker can feel only horror and dismay. Among the most foolhardy is another year-old boy. For one heart-stopping moment it seems as if he will crash directly on to it, but miraculously he splashes down in the sea a few feet away.
Within minutes — having scrambled back up the path beneath us — he is on the Hoe again, shrugging off questions about what his parents know about his tombstoning exploits. Her parents, and others who suspect their children might be tombstoning, should make every effort to find out the truth — and fast — for there is no sign of these children giving up their deadly hobby of their own volition. Dead Man's Cove: The name of the craze is said to come from trying to enter the water upright and straight like a tombstone.
Only this March, the City Council opened a state-of-the-art leisure centre, complete with an Olympic-sized swimming pool and what it claims is one of the top four diving pools in the country. This is because:. Injuries and deaths as a result of tombstoning have been a problem. Over the five year period - incidents required a rescue or emergency response, 12 of these ended in a fatality. Many of the non-fatal incidents have resulted in life-changing injuries and they required significant resources from the rescue services.
Young and older fathers were among the fatalities, along with at least three teenagers. The coastguard has produced a video clip highlighting the consequences. The best way to learn about the risks involved and have a good experience is to try coasteering - a mix of scrambling, climbing, traversing and cliff jumping around the coast with a professional guide.