curtis atherton hartlepool drowning waterfall
Durham Police have named the teenager who died after getting into difficulty at a popular waterfall as 16-year-old Curtis Atherton from Hartlepool Durham Constabulary

A teenager has died after swimming at one of the UK's best-known waterfalls. The victim, named by Durham police as 16-year-old Curtis Atherton from Hartlepool, was at High Force waterfall in Middleton-in-Teesdale on Tuesday (14 June) when friends saw he was in difficulty.

The alarm was raised at 8pm and emergency services including fell rescue, police, fire crews and air support scoured the River Tees. Curtis was located at approximately 8.45 pm and taken by air ambulance to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough where he died. The boy's friends - three boys and two girls - were unharmed, local news site the Chronicle reports.

The 20-metre (70 foot) waterfall High Force is popular with bathers but has its dangers. Last year Newcastle teacher Wadud Abdul died in the same location during a half-term trip with family. Swimmers are warned to take extra care during summer months as they may not realise how cold the water is and suffer from cold water shock.

Detective Inspector Andy Crowe from Durham Constabulary said: "This is a devastating incident and a stark reminder of how a fun afternoon swimming with friends can end in tragedy. My advice is simple: Do not swim in open stretches of water such as this as the dangers are often well hidden.

"As well as the deceptively cold water temperatures which affect people's ability to swim, there are many hidden hazards lying beneath, such as strong currents and discarded rubbish or rocks."

Pete Bell, team leader at the Teesdale and Weardale Search and Mountain Rescue Team, told the Mail Online Curtis was recovered some distance from the river bank. "Swimming in any cold water body is always a problem, particularly in summer, because you get cold water shock and you lose the ability to swim. Even the best swimmers can get affected by cold water shock."