Mum who lost son in cliff tragedy says something needs to be done to prevent further deaths

Jean Costello.
Jean Costello.

A mum who lost her son after he drove over cliffs in South Shields says more needs to be done to prevent further tragedies.

Jean Costello has spoken out after a 25-year-old woman’s car went off the top of cliffs at Marsden Grotto in the early hours of Monday.

A car has gone over a 80ft cliff at Marsden Grotto. Picture by:@NEAS_HART

A car has gone over a 80ft cliff at Marsden Grotto. Picture by:@NEAS_HART

Police were called to the cliffs at 1.52am on Monday and a car was found on the beach below, having gone through fencing on the cliff top.

The woman was taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary with serious injuries, after being evacuated from the beach via lifeboat.

A police spokeswoman said her condition is “critical but stable” as inquiries into what happened continue.

News of the woman’s injuries brought back terrible memories for Jean, who lost her son Stephen Heslop on Boxing Day 2007, after the 22-year-old drove to his death less than 24 hours after being turned away from mental health services.

Stephen Heslop

Stephen Heslop

Jean said: “I felt physically sick when I saw the news, I felt dizzy looking at it. It took me right back to what happened with Stephen.

“She’s lucky to be alive because Stephen died instantly. It’s just so tragic that this has happened once again. I think somebody seriously needs to start looking at ways to stop this from happening.

“I’ve seen that in other places in the country they’ve done stuff like put trees along the cliff tops to stop this happening and it’s about time that something was done here. There’s too much tragedy in this town.”

Humber Coastguard were asked to assist in the rescue of the woman and requested the launch of both Tynemouth RNLI inshore and all weather lifeboats, assisted by Sunderland Coastguard Rescue Team and South Shields Volunteer Life Brigade on shore.

Jean Costello lays a wreath where her son drove over the cliffs.

Jean Costello lays a wreath where her son drove over the cliffs.

The spokesman for Tynemouth RNLI said the woman was conscious, although seriously injured.

Jean, whose son Stephen had been suffering from depression for a number of years, added: “The relevant people need to start looking at this. I’m not sure exactly what can be done, and there’s always going to be people going over the cliffs, but it shouldn’t be so easy for them to do it.

“It’s an eerie place now because so many people have died there.

“It’s hard for me because every time this happens I think about what happened to Stephen and I know what these families are going through because it’s what my family went through.

“Who has the power to do something about this? I just hope this woman makes a full recovery.”