This weekend was one of the worst in memory for the fire service, a senior officer has said, after six people died in Scotland’s waters.
Three people, including a nine-year-old boy, died after getting into difficulty near Pulpit Rock on Loch Lomond on Saturday evening while a seven-year-old boy was taken to hospital.
The incident followed the deaths of three other young people in similar circumstances in Stonehouse, involving an 11-year-old boy, in Lanark, where a 13-year-old boy lost his life, and another on Loch Lomond on Friday, which claimed the life of a 16-year-old boy.
Alasdair Perry, a deputy assistant chief officer for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, told Good Morning Scotland: “This is the worst weekend in relation to incidents of this nature I can remember and I’d like to offer my condolences and those of everyone at the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service to all those affected by this weekend’s tragic events, and in particular to the friends and families of all those involved.”
Simon Jones, the executive lead for water safety at Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park, added: “It’s been a terrible week in the park and across other parts of Scotland as well for tragic events.
“Our deepest sympathies go out to friends and family.
“We can’t remember a period like this – many of our staff were closely involved and it’s been very traumatic for people involved.
“(It’s been) really, really challenging and sobering – giving us a lot of cause for reflection.”
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf also said the Scottish Government was “concerned” by the recent tragedies.
He added: “First and foremost my condolences go out to all the families and the communities that have been affected by this.
“I think all of us have been rocked by these tragedies and I spoke to a couple of my ministerial colleagues over the weekend as this news unfolded, and certainly whatever we can do in government to support those in our national parks or other stakeholders to make our parks, our walks, our tourist hotspots as safe as possible, then the government is committed to do that.”
Mr Perry urged those swimming in open water to adhere to safety advice, not to leave young people unattended and to ensure they do not swim after consuming alcohol.
His warnings follow an appeal issued on Sunday by Assistant Chief Constable Mark Williams of Police Scotland, who said: “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.”