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River Deaths Of Two Girls Ruled Accidental
The deaths of two girls who were swept away by the River Wear in July were accidental, an inquest has heard.
Tonibeth Purvis, 15, tried to save her friend Chloe Fowler, 14, after she got into difficulty in the river at Washington, Tyne and Wear.
Both girls were swept away and their bodies were later found by emergency crews.
During the prolonged rescue attempt, the coroner in Sunderland was told various members of the public tried in vain to save the girls.
They included an off-duty police officer who dived into the water and two local fishermen, as well as some of the teenagers' friends.
There were also dozens of emergency service workers at the scene, including specialist dive teams, the fire brigade, a helicopter and 40 police officers.
Recording his verdict, Coroner Derek Winter said: "These events were traumatic and remain so. They touched the families and the whole community.
"Chloe jumped into the water and got into difficulty. Then Tonibeth in a valiant attempt to try and save her also got into difficulty.
"Both were overwhelmed by the river and drowned despite the efforts of friends and the rescue services.
"I am so very sad about your loss."
Detective Inspector Mark Ord of Northumbria Police described the timeline of events and said both girls were found within 100 metres of where they were last seen.
He described how, having received the initial report just before 3pm, Tonibeth was not located until 8.49pm and then Chloe just before 10pm.
"The river was in full flow and was a hazardous environment. It was six metres deep in the middle," he said.
"We tried desperately to find the girls."
The hearing at Sunderland Civic Centre heard that since the incident the local authority has agreed to conduct weekly checks along the river, which rises and falls quickly with the tide.