Police are urging people to “exercise extreme caution” when swimming in lochs and rivers after six people – including four young boys – died in a series of tragic incidents.
The youngest victim was a boy of nine, while a seven-year-old boy is also fighting for his life after they both got into difficulty in the water near to Pulpit Rock at Loch Lomond, south of Ardlui, on Saturday evening.
That incident, which also claimed the lives of a 41-year-old man and a 29-year-old woman, was the fourth such incident in Scotland’s waters in just over 24 hours.
The number of deaths in open water this weekend is hard to comprehend and my thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those affectedAssistant Chief Constable Mark Williams
Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams, of Police Scotland, said the number of deaths that had taken place in open waters over Friday and Saturday was “hard to comprehend”.
He stated: “The warm weather can make open water swimming and paddling very inviting but it is extremely dangerous, even for the most experienced swimmers or supervised children. The conditions can change very quickly and there are often hidden risks like deeper water and strong currents.
“The message I want to send to everyone is exercise extreme caution. It is better to keep a safe distance from water if possible.
“Tragically, this weekend has highlighted that open water is very, very dangerous.”
He urged people: “If you see someone in the water and distressed, call 999 immediately.
“Remember, you could get into difficulty yourself trying to help so please take care and seek help as soon as possible.”
The first fatality occurred on Friday evening, when a 16-year-old boy died in the water at Balloch Country Park, at the south end of Loch Lomond, on Friday.
Then an 11-year-old boy was pronounced dead at the scene after being found in the river at Alexander Hamilton Memorial Park in Stonehouse, South Lanarkshire, at 4.30pm on Saturday afternoon.
Police were then called out to Hazelbank in Lanark at 5.55pm, following the report of a concern for a person in the water.
Emergency services who attended at the scene recovered a body from the water, with the family of a 13-year-old boy been made aware of the incident.
Less than an hour later, at 6.40pm on Saturday, police were called out after a group of people got into difficulties in the water near Pulpit Rock.
As well as claiming the lives of a man, woman and child, a seven-year-old boy had to be rushed by ambulance to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow, where he is currently in intensive care.
A Police Scotland statement following that incident said: “A multi-agency operation took place and sadly three people were pronounced dead at the scene.
“Formal identification has still to take place but the family of a 41-year-old man, 29-year-old woman and nine-year-old boy have been made aware.
“A seven-year-old boy was taken by ambulance to the Royal Hospital for Children in Glasgow and is currently in intensive care.”