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Revellers warned to beware of fast-flowing river

Bicester Advertiser: John Deans and Peter Pickthall John Deans and Peter Pickthall

MAY Morning revellers were last night warned of new dangers of jumping into the River Cherwell following recent heavy rainfall.

For the second year running, organisers co-ordinating today’s May Day celebrations across Oxford have decided to leave Magdalen Bridge open.

In 2005, 40 people were injured jumping from the bridge into the depleted River Cherwell, which led to the bridge being closed for the next four years.

Last week river levels looked set to be as low as in 2005, but recent rainfall has seen a flood alert declared on the river.

Experts said the fast flowing water could wash people away.

Rachel Capell, events and international links officer at Oxford City Council, said: “We would advise people to stay safe during the celebrations at Magdalen Bridge and consider their actions throughout the morning.”

Environment Agency spokesman Jo Slimin added: “The Cherwell has risen with the bad weather, and heavy rainfall and thundery showers forecast will only make matters worse.

“When it is in full flow, which it will be, people could be washed down the river.”

Meanwhile, John Deans and Peter Pickthall have come up with an innovative way for people to enjoy the ‘tradition’ of jumping into the bridge – without getting their feet wet or sustaining serious injury.

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The Oxford pair have created a Facebook application, Mayday Mayhem, which allows people to virtually ‘catch’ jumpers coming off the bridge and ferry them to the side of the river to waiting emergency services.

Mr Deans, 37, joked: “If we can save a few lives that would definitely be worthwhile.”

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