Lancaster man fined for jumping off Kirkby Lonsdale’s Devil’s Bridge

Devil's Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale, where a young man was killed on Saturday, July 21, 2012.
Devil's Bridge, Kirkby Lonsdale, where a young man was killed on Saturday, July 21, 2012.
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A Lancaster man is thought to be the first person to be fined for jumping off Devil’s Bridge at Kirkby Lonsdale.

Michael Sharkey, of Gressingham Drive, was slapped with the £170 penalty for making the 30ft leap this summer.

The 24-year-old is among three people being prosecuted for the activity, which claimed a young man’s life in 2012.

A bylaw banning so-called ‘tombstoning’ has been in force on the 14th century monument since 1998, but until now nobody has been taken to court. During warm weather, the Lunesdale beauty spot becomes popular as sun-seekers cool off in the River Lune, but police and council chiefs say jumping from the bridge is dangerous and potentially fatal.

The case against Mr Sharkey, and two other men from Rossendale, came about after patrols were stepped up in the area during a heatwave in July.

Inspector Paul Latham, from Cumbria Police, said: “There are a number of risks associated with jumping off a bridge including hitting rocks, misjudging the depth of water and sudden emersion in cold water.

“This fine shows we do take this activity very seriously and work closely with South Lakeland District Council to tackle the dangers.

“If someone jumping is reported to us we will attend and take further action as appropriate, however, the responsibility for keeping each other safe falls on the entire community.

“Police cannot be there all the time and we encourage members of the public to either report anyone seen jumping, or to speak to them and advise them of the risks in jumping.

“There is also personal responsibility people need to take to protect their own health and safety.

“It is an incredibly dangerous activity and I would ask anyone who is considering jumping to think about the risks and effects it will have on family should anything untoward happen.

“Jumping from the bridge is particularly common during the summer months and we will continue to work with the local community next summer to reiterate the dangers.”

John Barwise, a neighbourhood enforcement officer for South Lakeland District Council (SLDC), said: “The fine imposed on the male who contravened the SLDC byelaw that prohibits jumping off Devil’s Bridge into the River Lune was a direct result of a joint enforcement operation carried out by SLDC`s Enforcement Team and Cumbria Police during the summer of 2013.

“The prosecution sends out a clear message that SLDC and Cumbria Police will not tolerate the irresponsible actions of members of the public who contravene the byelaw and risk death or serious injury by jumping off the bridge.”

In July 2012, 22-year-old Darrell Teal, of Manchester, drowned after jumping into the water and passing out.

The bylaw gives courts powers to fine anyone found guilty of breaching it up to £500.