If you’re scared of water and can’t swim, then the best way to overcome your fear is probably to take swimming lessons in your local pool. The answer definitely isn’t to jump into your local canal, as this 13-year-old boy tragically found out last June.
Flavio Rafael Pizarro – known to his friends as Rafael – attempted to get over his fears by jumping into the Rochdale canal near Boarshaw Clough Way with his school friends. Despite the fact that he couldn’t swim, he was determined to jump in at the same time as his friends Benjamin Charlton, Jasmine Lee and Megan Quinn.
Rafael did indeed manage to jump in, but he quickly became panicky and started flailing his arms around, unable to keep himself above the water. His friends and two passing dog walkers tried to save him as he sunk to the bottom of the canal, but he spent at least 20 minutes underwater before emergency services arrived and were able to drain the canal and recover his body.
Rafael was still alive at this point but had suffered serious brain damage. He passed away nine days later in hospital.
What an absolutely tragic and upsetting story. It must be absolutely terrible for the other kids who were with him that day as well. RIP.
Rafael’s mother Maria said the following:
My thoughts are that on that particular day he tried to overcome his fear of the water, because he was seeing his friends jumping into the water as well.
I lost my son. How many children have to die to be able to put some signage in place?
Maria is referring to the fact that there are no warning signs in that area of the canal of the dangers of swimming in it. Whilst I can appreciate that this may make a difference for some people jumping into water, I doubt it really would have affected this situation too much as it was a bunch of teenage kids playing around in the water – I don’t think they’re going to care too much about a sign telling them not to do something. If anything, it’s probably only going to make them more likely to do it.
This is all really besides the point though, and the fact is that this 13-year-old kid has died under truly awful circumstances and it really does suck and is terribly upsetting. RIP again.
If you’re scared of water too and this post has put you off ever trying to learn to swim, don’t worry – here’s ten reasons why going swimming is completely and utterly weird anyway.