"IT is a tragedy waiting to happen".

These are the words of an Ilkley businesswoman and mother-of-two who witnessed a terrifying incident on Sunday when a teenage boy came perilously close to drowning after getting into difficulty while swimming in the River Wharfe in Ilkley.

Rachel Wilkinson, of Ilkley, who owns Wilkinson Chiropractic, was walking her dog by the river on Sunday afternoon when she saw the distressing incident by the river bend near the old iron bridge.

"I didn't want to look but couldn't fail to hear his screams," she said. "One minute three young teenagers are having a great time swimming in the river, then there were real cries of distress. One of the boys started to drift away with the current and obviously got tired with the effort of trying to keep afloat. "He submerged more than once. His screams were terrible to hear."

Rachel said the boy's friends were unable to help him as he was being dragged down the river. "I heard a shout and an older man jumped in and started swimming as fast as he could towards the boy," she said. "He got to him within a minute or so but it looked an effort for his stronger dad too.

"I thought that could have ended very differently if the man I thought was his dad wasn't there."

Rachel, mum to a 14-year-old girl and son, 11, is now lobbying Bradford Council to put warning signs up about the dangers of swimming in the River Wharfe. When she posted the incident on Facebook it was shared by hundreds of people with many saying locals had been aware of the dangers for generations.

"I am staggered there are no warning signs around that area considering this appears to be a well known danger spot historically," added Rachel. "I have lived in Ilkley for 13 years and I have always told my children not to jump off the bridge but I was never aware of the problem on the bend. Children are the most precious things and you want to give them fun and freedom but then you see this.

"Please tell your youngsters to be extra careful playing in the Wharfe this summer. It has a strong current and deceptive depths."

Rachel said, as a local business owner she would be happy to sponsor a sign and she has vowed to call Bradford Council every day until something is done. She has also written to chairman of Ilkley Parish Council Cllr Steve Butler to ask if he could help get signs erected.

"I will not stop until this is acted on," she added.

Councillor Anne Hawkesworth (Ind, Ilkley) said: "Obviously we need to press for signs. I will be in contact with emergency planning.

"However my guidance to parents whenever your child goes into a river they or you are taking a risk. For teenagers and kids playing around the message is the same. Nature is not always kind. As we know during flooding periods the Wharfe is an extremely fast flowing stretch of water. Do be careful."

Councillor Martin Smith (Con, Ilkley) said he agreed with the need for signs.

In August 2013 five-year-old Lily Waddington was close to drowning when she was pulled from the river in Ilkley by Simon Wood, of Otley, who was hailed a hero and nominated by police for an award.

In June 2016 Daniel Hall was enjoying a picnic on the pebble beach near the swing bridge when he spotted two boys in serious trouble. He dived in to help and with the boys' father and another man got the children safely to shore. After the event Mr Hall said: "I think it was a lesson for us all to always be mindful of the dangers of the river."