05:15PM, Wednesday 27 April 2022
A harrowing video recounting the final moments of a Langley man who drowned in the Jubilee River will be shown to Slough pupils to raise awareness of water safety.
Michael Scaife, 20, died in the river at The Myrke, Datchet, in August 2015 after he jumped in to try and save a friend who had got into difficulty in the water.
His family has since successfully campaigned to rename the footbridge near to where the tragic accident took place ‘Michael’s Bridge’ to warn people of the dangers the river possesses.
Michael Scaife's family successfully campaigned to rename a footbridge at The Myrke 'Michael's Bridge'
An educational video, produced by the Safer Slough Partnership and Environment Agency, features a moving account from Michael’s friend Jade Spilsbury, who was at the scene when Michael disappeared beneath the water.
She said: “As soon as I saw his head go under the first time that was it. The first thing I immediately did was ring the ambulance.
“The current is too strong and they just can’t fight the current.”
The video also features Michael’s mother, Sonia Scaife, standing on the bridge where she sat for hours waiting for her son’s body to be pulled from the river by specialist divers.
Sonia said: “Just don’t go in, you don’t know what’s hiding in this river, you don’t know what’s in there. You could have landed on debris, people throw trolleys in the rivers, dangerous stuff.
“We will never know how many people Michael’s story may save just by changing their minds about going into bodies of open water like the Jubilee River.”
Both women warn others not to go into any body of water on hot days due to the water being freezing cold and the risk of cold-water shock, which Michael suffered from rendering him unable to surface.
Michael's father, Mark Scaife, on his son's memorial bridge.
SBC’s joint chair of the Safer Slough Partnership board, Alan Sinclair, said: “This is a really sad and salient story of a young man from Langley with his whole life in front of him, who was out on a summer’s day and having fun.
“It quickly turned to tragedy when another young man got into trouble and Michael helped get him to the edge before getting into trouble himself.
“The Safer Slough Partnership has done a lot of work to try and educate and warn people not to go in the Jubilee River and we are widening this to reach all the secondary school pupils.”
The Jubilee River has been the scene of further tragedies since Michael’s death.
17-year-old Dajarn Daly, from Wexham, and 22-year-old Nayeeb Ullah Naizai died within weeks of each other in the river in the summer of 2018.
Lifebuoys and lines are available alongside the river banks but these have had to be regularly replaced due to vandalism.
If you see someone getting into difficult in the water, call 999 and tell them to float on their back or find a safety buoy.
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