EXPERTS are studying whether York’s river banks could be made safer following the tragic deaths of five people in April - and the parents of one of the victims have pledged to help meet the costs.

Jane Mowat, head of community safety at City of York Council, said data from the fatalities was currently being examined to see if any river banks could be identified where further ‘physical measures’ would be helpful.

“We will continue to work with representatives across the city, including the River Safety Group, to try to make York’s rivers as safe as possible,” she said.

One of the five who died was 19-year-old Sonny Ferry, of Rutland, who drowned in the Foss while on a night out, and his parents Kate and Stephen Ferry are already trying to raise £45,000 to buy a new York Rescue Boat.

The Sunshine Campaign has raised £13,000 in less than six weeks and the couple have now decided to widen its scope in a bid to prevent other parents going through the trauma they are suffering.

They say that after raising the £45,000, they intend to continue their fundraising to meet the bill for physical measures along the river banks, such as new railings, but also for an educational drive about the dangers of the rivers and for services to help meet the mental health and social care needs of vulnerable people.

“We want to ensure that, to the best of our ability, every precaution is taken to prevent any further unnecessary deaths or injuries relating to the city’s rivers and waterways,” said the couple.

Kate also said she was unhappy at the speed with which the review was being conducted, saying she believed urgent action was needed now.

She said that with her husband and family’s full support, she had contacted York Central MP Rachael Maskell, Melton and Rutland MP Sir Alan Duncan and City of York Council to seek their support and assistance.

She said she had asked the council to provide her with an estimate of the costs of new riverside infrastructure and all other riverside safety and educational needs.

“We have asked for further NHS funding costs, especially with regard to social care and mental health needs, to be included in this new target, which will be raised by public donation to the Sunshine Campaign.

“To help this campaign take flight, our family and friends have prepared a DIY version of a very special song, which many will recognise and will shortly be made available on I-Tunes for a donation of £1 per download,” she added.

Ms Maskell said she was happy to support further work around river safety, and had already had a meeting with the council’s chief executive and York Rescue Boat, and planned to spend a shift with boat crew, and would also be meeting with the All Party Parliamentary Group on Water Safety and Drowning Prevention.

A spokeswoman for Sir Alan Duncan said he was supportive of the extended campaign and had written to York council twice about river safety and also to North Yorkshire Police to follow up a number of issues.

Meanwhile, police divers went in to York’s River Foss yesterday to search for property belonging to Sonny.

Police marine search unit vans were parked near Blue Bridge, and divers could be seen in the water.

They are believed to have been searching for Sonny’s wallet - his mother Kate has told The Press previously that it wasn’t with him when his body was recovered, and she has appealed for the public’s help in finding it.

She said she believed he might have lost it in a pub or club, or in the street, although it might have fallen out of his pocket while he was in the water.

North Yorkshire Police said officers were conducting underwater searches to look for property in connection with the investigation into Sonny’s death.