Watch parents pay tribute to 'special boy' after drowning tragedy near Derby

They are wanting to raise awareness about the dangers of open water

The parents of a "special" teenager who died in the River Trent near Derby have joined Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service (DFRS) to share their heartbreaking story - as part of a new campaign to prevent drowning tragedies.

Thandolwethu Ndlovu, otherwise known as Thando, was near Swarkestone Bridge with friends when he entered the water and got into difficulty on July 20, 2021.

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His body was sadly recovered the next day following an extensive search and rescue effort by emergency services.

It was just two days after his 15th birthday.

DFRS has now partnered with his parents, Jabulani and Nombulelo Ndlovu, on a video called Thando's Story to warn about the dangers of jumping or swimming in open water - and you can watch it above.

It is being released ahead of the school holidays and summer months - a time when an increasing number of young people put themselves at risk of drowning.

Thandolwethu Ndlovu, otherwise known as Thando, who sadly drowned near DerbyThandolwethu Ndlovu, otherwise known as Thando, who sadly drowned near Derby
Thandolwethu Ndlovu, otherwise known as Thando, who sadly drowned near Derby

'Open water can be very dangerous'

DFRS group manager David Diggins, who is also the chair of the Derbyshire Water Safety Partnership, said: "I would like to extend my thanks to Mr and Mrs Ndlovu for allowing us to share Thando's story and for choosing to use his legacy to prevent other families from experiencing the same heartache.  

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"Open water may look safe and inviting especially on a hot day, but it can be very dangerous due to very cold water temperatures, hidden currents, fast-flowing water, hidden rocks, rubbish or debris and water pollution that could make you extremely ill.

"As the school holiday approaches and the weather gets warmer, our advice is simple - never be tempted to jump into or swim in any open water to cool off."

In the last five years, between April 2017 to March 2022, Derbyshire firefighters have been called to 106 water rescue incidents – 15 of which involved young people under the age of 17.

And of the total number of water incidents, 16 have been fatal - with males accounting for the majority (14) of those who died.

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Group manager Diggins added: "Tragically, in the case of Thando, his was the second water-related death in Derbyshire in a matter of days.

"But this is not solely an issue confined to just 2021.

"Year on year we see people drown by underestimating the risks associated with open water.

"Parents, guardians and carers, please watch Thando's Story and talk to your children about the dangers of playing in or close to any open water.

"Highlighting the dangers and making sure everyone is aware can help us prevent these needless deaths."

Visit the DFRS website for more water safety advice.

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