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Friends drown trying to save dog

TWO BOYS drowned when they jumped into stormy seas to try to rescue a dog at the same place where three police officers died in a similar accident.

Oliver Harvey, 16, was the first to jump into the waves at Blackpool Promenade last Saturday afternoon to try to rescue his Border Collie that was struggling in the water. Alex Yorke, also 16, dived in to help his best friend when he saw he was in difficulties, but both were engulfed by huge waves in Force 7 winds.

Oliver’s body was recovered shortly afterwards. The dog was also found dead. Coastguards said there was no chance that Alex had survived, but were still searching for his body early this week.
The boys, from the Staning area of Blackpool, were with friends walking along the Promenade at Gynn Square, near the North Pier. One had brought his dog, Sarah, which was not on a lead and was swept into the water. Oliver climbed over safety chains and dived in, quickly followed by Alex, whose ambition had been to become a vet.

Two policemen and a policewoman drowned in 1983 trying to save a Scottish holidaymaker who also died trying to rescue his dog. A plaque commemorating them is at the scene. Since then, the number of drownings at Gynn Square has reached ten. Two years ago a man died in front of his wife in a vain attempt to rescue their dog.

A spokesman for the Maritime and Coastguard Agency said: "One of our lifeboats couldn’t launch straight away because it was too rough. Even the strongest of swimmers would have found it difficult."

A police spokesman said: "The tide was going out when the teenagers were in the water. There was a strong undertow, making it even more dangerous for anyone in the sea."

Oliver’s parents, Desmond and Beverley, who have a daughter, Rebecca, 19, said: "We would like to thank all the emergency services and everybody else who helped in the search. We have been in contact with the Yorke family and send our heartfelt best wishes to them at this awful time."

Alex’s parents, Garry and Wanda, who have a son, Adam, 13, said: "He was an intelligent boy who loved reading and enjoyed music, particularly heavy rock music. He was a pupil at Collegiate High School in Blackpool where he excelled in his subjects and was hoping to be a vet."