Youngsters dicing with death on bridge

The Bridge over the Linkway at Sherdley Park.
The Bridge over the Linkway at Sherdley Park.

DAREDEVIL youths are tying rope-swings to a landmark St Helens bridge and launching themselves out towards the high-speed traffic.

Eye-witness Kevin Foster, the partner of Sherdley Bridge fall victim John Blackburn (pictured), says children as young as 12 are tying makeshift swings to the bridge’s support beams and swinging out towards the A570 St Helens Linkway.

Kevin argues that the distinctive bridge – which links Sherdley Road to Sherdley Park – is “another tragedy waiting to happen” if nothing is done to improve its safety.

He said: “I was driving under the bridge last week and couldn’t believe my eyes. A group of about six or seven children had climbed over the railings and tied a blue rope with a tyre on the end to one of the beams. They were running down the bank and launching themselves out towards to road.

“I pulled over and told them to stop because it was so dangerous – but they didn’t want to know. If they fell or if the rope snapped they could easily be thrown into the road. One of my friends called the police but, on our way back from the town centre, we noticed that one swing was still attached.

“What will it take for something to be done to improve the safety of that bridge?”

Kevin’s partner John Blackburn, 32, passed away on May 6 after falling from the landmark bridge while out walking his beloved American bulldog, Winston.

And Kevin, of Nutgrove, is adamant that higher railings and safety mesh must be installed at the site to prevent any further tragedies.

In a meeting with bridge safety inspectors earlier this week he was told that the safety measures could cost up to £60,000.

But Kevin added: “If it’s going to save a life, who cares. It would be worth every penny.

“At the moment anyone can climb over the railings and the bridge’s lights don’t even work properly. There’s no cameras there either.

“Unless something is done that bridge is going to take another life – and next time it could be a child.”

A police spokesman confirmed: “Officers were called to the Sherdley Bridge just after 5pm last Wednesday (August 17) to a report that a small number of young males had built two rope swings underneath the bridge. The officers spoke with the youths, who were then moved on.

“One of the rope swings was taken down and a request was put into the council to remove the other swing.”