THE parents of a teenager who drowned in York earlier this month have launched a £45,000 appeal to buy a new rescue boat for the city’s rivers.

Kate and Stephen Ferry - whose son Sonny was the third out of four people to have drowned in a fortnight in York - say they want to help prevent more parents going through their devastating loss.

They hope to fund a replacement for York Rescue Boat’s outdated craft, which would feature equipment such as 3D scanning sonar, advanced radio communications and a ‘reach pole’ which can be extended to someone struggling in the water.

Kate, speaking after visiting York to lay flowers near Blue Bridge, where Sonny’s body was recovered, said: “Our sweet precious boy is safe now, no longer is he lost in the dark, he is no longer frightened, he is no longer so very cold, or in any pain, he is no longer screaming for help, and he is no longer gasping for air.

“It is for every other child, every precious person still breathing, that we need to do this.

“I have no concerns that our Sonny will ever be forgotten or be without our love, and my family and I will never forget all of the other precious individuals that were taken by the waters, whatever the circumstances in which it happened.”

Sonny, 19, from Rutland, fell in the water after a night out in the city centre. Another man, Steven O’Neill, from The Wirral, died in the Ouse early on Saturday, and a York man, Lee Evenett, died in the Foss earlier this month, while a woman in her 70s, who has not yet been identified, died in the Ouse.

Sonny’s family and friends are setting up a website appeal and the collection at his funeral at the Parish Church of St Mary the Virgin, Ketton, at noon on May 3 will also go towards it.

The couple’s appeal is backed by The Press and York Central MP Rachael Maskell, and York Rescue Boat operations manager Rachel Lacey said the couple’s inner strength at this time was "inspirational".

She said: “We are all overwhelmed by their decision to support us, and campaign for greater river safety on a wider scale, at such a time.

“Each piece of equipment we have suggested will make a positive difference to our future, and the futures of the people we go to help. We are proud to be a part of Sonny’s legacy to York.”

She said the current boat, a second hand Humber Assault 5.2m, was approximately 15 years old and a replacement Humber Destroyer 7m would cost about £45,000 fully fitted, and provide more room for crew to move around and space to lay a stretcher down.

“The newer engines are quieter, cleaner, more efficient and more economical to run,” she said. “We would be looking at getting around 15 years of operational service out of this boat.”

She said a fitted 3D Scanning Sonar would be used by the team to accurately map river depths from Linton Lock to Naburn Lock, spot hazards under the water and speed up detection of submerged casualties.

She said the new radio system would enable the rescue team to arrive at the scene of a call-out more quickly - "at a time when every seconds matters".