Professional Diver Found Body In Durham River

An professional diver from County Durham's told Heart about finding a body in the River Wear in Durham.

Trevor Bankhead from Chester-Le-Street took it upon himself to help in the search for missing Durham University student Euan Coulthard, after police deemed it too dangerous to enter the river.

 The diver said he discovered the body within seconds of entering the River Wear just yards from where the 19-year-old law student was last seen on Framwellgate Bridge. 

Mr Bankhead works as a commercial shellfish diver and travelled from the Western Isles in Scotland to Durham to look for the missing student to bring closure to Euan's family, after speaking to his brother Gary, a firefighter involved in the search.

He has previous experience of diving in the River Wear, having done it more than 500 times.

He told Heart:
"Nobody knows that river like me and my brother - I know the riverbed like the back of my hand and I knew that I had to do something to help bring closure for the boy's mother.

I knew that the body would either be by the weir or in the debris-field where people have thrown things from the bridge - there's shopping trolleys, dustbins, trees, placards allsorts.

I knew he wouldn't have gone past the weir.

I found him within 30 seconds of being in the water as I was making my way down to the weir.

The water was about two metres deep. I knew it was him. We had a moment together - I said to him 'I've come to take you home my friend'."

The student went missing on Wednesday 14th January.

A major search was launched involving dozens of police officers, firefighters and mountain rescue experts.

However, it is understood Mr Bankhead was the first diver to enter the water to search for the body.

The diver said he had been checking the visibility regularly with his brother, and Friday was the first day when the water was clear enough to conduct a search.

A spokesperson for Durham Police said:
"Police immediately wanted to deploy divers but after taking advice from the Environment Agency and fire service, were unable to do so due to bad weather conditions.

We were made aware on Friday morning by Mr Bankhead that he was planning on taking it upon himself to go into the river to look under the bridge."

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