The family of a teenager who drowned in the sea at a beach in South Wales have said he was “a vibrant and promising” young boy whose bright future was cut short.
David Ejimofor, 15, died after getting into trouble in the water off Aberavon Beach, Port Talbot on Monday evening.
His family have said he jumped off the pier with friends in high tide in what is said to be a local end-of-school-year tradition, and have called for better safeguarding to be put in place at the beach.
An operation to rescue David was sparked after the Coastguard was alerted to an incident shortly after 6pm.
David was found and rushed to the Princess of Wales Hospital in Bridgend, but attempts to save him failed.
In a tribute, David’s family said he was “a vibrant and promising young boy” and a beloved “son, brother, cousin, nephew, and friend”.
They also described him as “well behaved and God-fearing” with an “unwavering passion for sports and health”.
“He was always striving to be the best version of himself. He has an infectious smile, caring nature, and boundless enthusiasm. He touched the lives of many.”
“This heart-breaking incident has left us devastated,” they added.
“As described by locals, ‘he is a ray of sunshine to all of us’.
“David’s dreams of a bright future were cut short, but his memory will forever live on in the hearts of those who knew and loved him.”
The family said they were supporting the police investigation and wanted to use David’s life as a “beacon for change”.
In a petition to Neath Port Talbot Council set up by the family to improve the safeguarding at the beach, the family said: “Our dear David was encouraged by friends to join them in jumping off the pier.
“He had his life ahead of him. He was athletic and very talented in many ways.
“As described by locals, this is a ‘yearly coming of age ceremony’ practiced after GCSEs and A-levels that the entire community is aware of.
“A terrible, preventable tragedy indeed.
“If everyone including schools are aware of this practice, surely we would expect the council to have better safeguarding measures in place especially at this time of year.
“David Ejimofor was not the first to suffer such a fate at the hands of this pier.
“We do not want David to be another statistic.
“We want his name to serve as an end of this unfortunate trail.
“It is for this reason that we seek change and reform by improving safeguarding measures at Aberavon Beach.”
They have called for the installation of physical barriers along the pier, better lighting, secured lifebuoys, a ladder from the water onto the pier, more signage warning of the dangers of jumping in, improved public education and awareness, increased presence of local authorities, and video surveillance cameras as well as improved lifeguard presence.
The petition added: “If a lifeguard was present at the time, those several minutes of David’s life wasted to try and find one could have been saved.
“By implementing these measures, countless lives will be saved and David’s life can be used as a cannon for change. The only way to protect our children is to prevent this ever happening again.”
Earlier this week, St Joseph’s Catholic School and Sixth Form Centre said it was “deeply saddened” to hear of David’s death.
Local Labour MP Stephen Kinnock said it was a “huge tragedy”.
Minister Jeremy Miles was questioned in the Senedd on Wednesday about what action the Welsh Government was taking to improve water safety.
Mr Miles said the Welsh Government was in the process of “implementing recommendations” of the Mark Allen’s law.
Mark Allen died in 2018 after jumping into a reservoir aged 18. His family believe he could have been saved if a throw-line had been available near the water.