FRIENDS of York student Megan Roberts, who died in the River Ouse following a night out, have called for action to try and prevent further deaths.
Kim Lancaster, Amber Corney and Bethanie Robinson are Fine Arts students at York St John University, as was Megan, whose body was found on Sunday, March 2, several weeks after she went missing.
Kim, 19, has started an online petition calling for new safety measures or CCTV cameras along the river, and said they hope to get 3,000 signatures.
She said they would help raise funds to cover the costs but felt “it shouldn’t have to come to that”.
The petition has so far attracted more than 1,800 names.
She said Megan’s death was devastating.
“All we can do now is take what’s happened and try to make it into something good, and try to save someone else’s life.”
Bethanie, 20, said: “We know you can’t prevent it but it would mean we would have found her earlier.
“The last thing we want is for everything to die down and the council to just forget about it. We think fences and barriers would mean it would never have happened.”
As the search for another missing person, Ben Clarkson, continues in York, Bethanie said: “The council is meant to protect us but this could be two people in the city’s rivers in a couple of months. It shouldn’t be a question. Someone has died in the river – put some barriers up.”
Amber, 21, said: “It’s not because someone’s taken her, it’s because of the river. The river might look nice because it hasn’t got a barrier alongside it, but at what cost? The amount of people who have had tickets from Lendal Bridge you would think they would put cameras on or near it.”
They paid tribute to their friend, describing Megan as “one of a kind”, who was “always smiling”.
Amber said: “There was never anyone who didn’t like her.”
Kim said the days following Megan’s disappearance were very difficult.
“It was horrible. We just couldn’t concentrate. We just wanted to know where she was. I was just expecting her to come into uni on the Monday. We would just start getting on with our day and it would just hit you.”
Bethanie said: “That was the worst thing, not knowing. For the first two weeks we were always together. If we didn’t have each other I don’t know how we would have got through.”
Amber said: “People need to think about if Megan was their daughter or sister. We always think it’s never going to happen to you. How would you feel if it happened to someone you know?
We just want to try to get people to think about it. I think the council has a responsibility to the city to do something.”
A City of York Council spokeswoman said the authority was one of a number of organisations with responsibility for riverside safety, and they would continue to try and prevent river-related incidents.
• A private funeral is being held for Megan Roberts today in Wetherby. Her family has asked for privacy at this time.
• The River Ouse Safety Advisory Group last week said: “We are determined to work with colleagues across the city to prevent river-related incidents where we can.
"We urge everyone who is out and about in the city centre to watch out for each other and stay together when heading home so that should an accident occur, there is someone to raise the alarm.”
The group includes the city council, police, fire brigade, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, the canal and river trust, the maritime and coastguard agency, York Boat and York Boat Rescue