Family of rugby star Jordan Veira who died swimming with friends in River Thames call for safety measures at ‘beach’ spot

·5-min read
 (Veira Family)
(Veira Family)

The family of a “charming” rugby player who tragically died after swimming in the River Thames have demanded more warning signs to stop the river from claiming the lives of more teenagers.

Jordan Veira, 15, was at a popular bathing spot in Bourne End, Berkshire, with friends and teammates from Maidenhead Rugby club on Bank Holiday Monday last week.

Witnesses described Jordan wading into the water with two friends before he disappeared under the surface after trying to cross the river to a sailing club on the opposite bank.

Jordan’s heartbroken family told the Standard there should be more warnings by the grassy bank, referred to as a “beach” by locals, but which has a steep underwater drop off and strong undercurrents.

“It is clear that Jordan touched the lives of many during his all too short time in life with us”, his parents Shaun and Sibo Veira told the Standard.

“As a family, it has been a difficult last few days as we have worked to cope with our loss, however, we now feel it is important that we as Jordan’s family say some words on his behalf.

“Jordan was a charmer, fun-loving friend, loving son and person who cared about everything around him. We believe he would have wanted his death to lead to meaningful change in an area that has claimed the lives of so many other teenagers and will continue to do so until its dangers are addressed.

“How can it be that so many young people can lose their lives in unsigned areas along the river in Thames Valley?

“In the area where Jordan died, an area often misdescribed as a beach, it’s known that after a few feet, there is a vertical drop which is easy to miss and causes the loss of life.

“We would like the area where Jordan lost his life to have appropriate warning signage where now it has none.”

 (Veira Family)
(Veira Family)

The avid Arsenal fan’s sister Kiara had rushed home from Italy to join the search.

On a fundraiser for his funeral she paid tribute to her younger brother: “He was treasured by everyone around him and never failed to make people laugh, his laugh alone was infectious.

“Jordan was a giver.

“He never complained when there was a lack of anything, even though he was in my heart, deserving of everything. He would never hesitate to put someone he loved first. I am proud to have had the opportunity to call him a brother. I had begged God for a sister and instead was blessed with the most wonderful little brother any sibling could ever wish for.”

Lee Myall, his coach at Maidenhead Rugby Football Club, trained Jordan after he was recruited from another club aged 12.

He told the Standard: “He was just absolute superstar. He was incredible. It’s completely tragic, he had just left school and had his whole life ahead of him.

“He was very popular, some of his teammates were with him by the river that awful day - it’s a great shock to them.

“His teammates are so young, they will never forget him. At 16 there is a slight air of invincibility about them so this has hit them hard.”

Paying tribute to the forward for the U-16s, Mr Myall added: “He was such a good lad, he had such a terrific sense of humour, very infectious.

“You would always want him in your team.

“When we were coaching you would hear the lads all fall about laughing, you would go over and it was always Jordan.

“He was never disrespectful or messing about but he was making these fabulously mischievous remarks that just really bond the team.

“I saw him grow in his confidence on and off the pitch - he would always play with a smile on his face.

“If he carried on his rate of improvement he could’ve reached the sky.”

The stretch of the River Thames where Jordan entered has no warnings of a steep drop (Google Maps)
The stretch of the River Thames where Jordan entered has no warnings of a steep drop (Google Maps)

Witness Naomi Hayward, 38, said she watched as Jordan’s friends desperately tried to save him diving under the water as he vanished from view.

“They came back to the shore and I could hear them saying ‘We think he’s drowned he didn’t come up over the side’. They were on their phones telling their families that they thought he had drowned.”

Police were also called to Boulters Lock, at the River Thames in Maidenhead, earlier on Monday, after a report of a woman’s body in the river.

The force said the woman’s death is being treated as unexplained and that formal identification has yet to take place, with officers working to establish the circumstances and to identify a next of kin.

Seven years ago 13-year-old Kyrece Francis tragically died when swimming in a similar stretch of the River Thames.

A relative of Kyrece, Silma Francis, offered her condolences to Jordan’s family on Facebook: “We would like to send our sincere condolences to the family and friends of the teenager who has been lost in this tragic way.

“We know from losing Kyrece Francis how painful it was each day, it has left a deep hole in our hearts. May God continue to bless you at this sad time.”

Thames Valley police have said Jordan’s death was “unexplained” but “non-suspicious death” and have prepared a file for Berkshire coroner’s office.

Bucks Fire and Rescue said: “Even good swimmers can be caught out by cold water and hidden dangers such as fast currents, deep holes, soft mud, weeds or rubbish.”

Police officers from the Marlow Neighbourhood Policing Team added: “Following the recent tragic events, Marlow Neighbourhood Policing Team would like to remind you to take extreme care around the river. Never get out of your depth even if you are a strong swimmer, the currents are unpredictable.”

To donate to Jordan’s funeral fund click here.

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