Stirling Council is reminding people of the potentially fatal consequences of misusing life-saving rings following a string of thefts along the River Forth.

Since last Friday (23 July), the Council’s Fisheries Team has had to replace 11 life rings on a section of the river near Craigforth.

This is more than a quarter of the total of the life rings deployed across the parts of the Forth and Teith where the Council has management responsibility and fishing rights.  

Six people died over the weekend in four separate water-related incidents. After rescue teams describe these incidents as the worst in memory.

Edina Olahova, 29-, and nine-year-old son Rana Haris Ali and family friend Muhammed Asim Riaz, 39, all died at Ardlui on Saturday after a struggle in the water. Mr Riaz’s seven-year-old son was taken to hospital where he is fighting for his life.

Schoolboy Connor Markward, 16, tragically drowned on Friday night after getting into difficulty in the water at Balloch Country Park. 

Dean Irvine, 11, was among the six who died after drowning in Lanarkshire on Saturday afternoon. His body was recovered from the water at Alexander Hamilton Memorial Park, Stonehouse. 

13-year-old Jamie Gilchrist was the last of the victims who died after being pulled from the River Clyde, near the village of Hazelbank. Emergency services were called to the scene but the youngster, could not be saved. 

HeraldScotland:

Convener of Stirling Council’s Environment and Housing Committee, Cllr Jim Thomson said: “At a time when we are hearing tragic stories of people drowning in open water across Scotland, the theft of this life-saving equipment could have fatal consequences and cause heartache for families and friends. To those involved, is that really something you want have that on your conscience?”

During the summer months, the banks of the Forth and Teith are used for fishing as well as walkers, cyclists and tourists. The recent hot weather has seen more people using the rivers for sunbathing and swimming, underlining the need for appropriate safety equipment on site.

Unfortunately, however, this is not the first time the Council has had to raise the issue of life rings being stolen at this time of year. 

Vice Convener of the Committee, Cllr Danny Gibson said: “Tragically, the dangers of open water have been highlighted once again over the last week and these rings can be the difference between life and death.  

“This is an extremely serious matter and it’s disturbing that the removal of this vital rescue equipment on our rivers is continuing to happen. I would urge anyone who spots this to report it to the authorities.”

Anyone who spots life rings being tampered with or removed should contact Police on 101.  

Following the recent tragic drowning deaths, the Council is also asking people to be aware of the dangers of open water. Please see our news story for advice and resources to keep safe at Stirling’s lochs, rivers and other inland waters.