Editorial: Teens' antics risking death

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Once again reckless teens are risking their lives at one of the region's popular swimming spots.

Every year as the weather gets warmer thrillseekers head to McLaren Falls and throw themselves off the bridge into the raging water below.

This year the danger is even more so with the river overflowing after the recent heavy rains.

On New Year's Day, one group of teens walked over the slippery rocks just metres from the wild falls while others climbed the barbed wire fence - put in place after a tragic accident - to dive into the water below.

Maxine Paterson feared the worst as she watched the daredevil antics and phoned police, who labelled the actions "severely stupid if not suicidal".

But there is only so much the police can do to do deter the youngsters, as this newspaper discovered yesterday when a reporter and photographer went to investigate.

Teens spoken to said they were not scared and did not feel there was any risk from their actions.

But they couldn't be further from the truth.

A quick scan through the Bay of Plenty Times' archives brings up several horrific stories including a death at the falls in 1995. A 20-year-old Whakatane man wearing jeans died after jumping from the bridge.

Three months later a 15-year-old girl suffered a serious spinal injury, which led to safety wiring and warning signs to discourage jumpers.

And in 2008 a 13-year-old daredevil received only minor injuries but it was initially feared she may have been left partially paralysed.

No one is denying teenagers the right to fun but perhaps next time they jump they should spare a thought for the families of those who have suffered the consequences in the past.

To say there is no risk from jumping is simply irresponsible.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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