Safety call after toddler pulled from pond

DRAMA ... Samantha Torres-McCarl and Dave Carruthers.
DRAMA ... Samantha Torres-McCarl and Dave Carruthers.

A WOMAN is calling for more safety measures at a South Tyneside beauty spot after pulling a toddler from a pond.

Samantha Torres-McCarl had attended West Boldon Lodge’s ‘Mud Open Day’ in Newcastle Road, with her family on Thursday.

The outdoor event was an educational way for youngsters and their families to learn about nature.

The 25-year-old, from South Shields, said she had went to admire the dragonflies on the reserve’s pond when she spotted a two-year-old lying flat on the boardwalk peering over the edge into the water.

However, Miss Torres-McCarl, who was lagging behind her family, then watched in horror as the tot slipped into the pond as his parents’ backs were turned.

She said: “Within seconds he just slipped into the water, he didn’t make a sound and there was no splash.

“Instantly, I shoved my nephew’s empty buggy, which I was pushing out of the way, and went to get him but he was already under the water by this point.

“I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck to keep his face out of the water so he could breath. It was horrific his eyes were as wide as saucers and he was gasping.”

Miss Torres-McCarl was then helped by her sister’s boyfriend, Dave Carruthers, 31, from South Shields, as she wasn’t strong enough to pull the boy free.

She said: “Dave had heard me yell, so came dashing over, I think people thought I’d just fallen over until they saw the boy’s head.

“But by this time his legs had became tangled up in all of the weeds and I didn’t have the strength to pull him free. When we got him out, his parents dashed straight over when they realised it was their son – they couldn’t thank me enough.”

Miss Torres-McCarl would like to see more safety measures in place at the popular nature reserve.

She said: “There is a barrier there, but it’s too high for little ones, I suggested that perhaps they could put some kind of chicken wire there, or maybe another plank of wood.

“It was such an awful experience, I can still see his face, but thankfully he’s all right.”

A spokesman for West Boldon Lodge said: “We take the safety of every individual coming on to our site extremely seriously and all visitors are issued with the appropriate health and safety information.

“A parent made us aware of an incident which related to a self-led event. We have received excellent feedback on the event and no complaints.

“As this was self-led, no staff or volunteers would be participating and therefore it would be inappropriate for us to make any other assumptions or comments.”

Twitter: @shieldsgazvez