A teenager died after jumping into a canal with his friends in a bid to overcome his fear of water, his mum has revealed at an inquest into the tragedy. Flavio Rafael Pizarro, 13 – known to friends and family as Rafael – died in hospital nine days after being pulled unconscious from the canal.
His family is now calling on the Canal and River Trust to do more to warn young people of the dangers of jumping into water. There are no warning signs in the area of the Rochdale Canal, Middleton, Manchester, where he jumped in on June 5.
Raphael and four friends jumped in on a “hot and sunny” day, but tragedy struck as Rafael began “panicking” and “gasping for breath”. Det Sgt Timothy O’Callaghan told the court that Rafael was “flinging his arms around” and spent at least 20 minutes underwater.
Rafael’s mum Maria broke down as details were read out in court. After the inquest, she said: “I lost my son. How many children have to die to be able to put some signage in place?”