Mum's tribute to 'urban explorer' son who died after falling off roof

A heartbroken mum has issued a warning to ‘urban explorers’ after her son died falling from the roof of an abandoned factory.

Ethan Ross Bonnar, 22, tragically passed away on Friday, days after he was left brain-dead following his fall from the top of the derelict milk factory.

The university student, from Torquay, Devon, had filmed himself on the roof of the building at 2pm on Tuesday (July 28) – just days before his fatal fall.

He was eventually dragged out of the old Dairy Crest factory in Totnes, Devon, by the fire brigade, the following day at 4pm, and was air-lifted to Derriford Major Trauma Centre for specialist surgery.

However, although his heart was still beating, Ethan had suffered a fractured skull and was declared to have already been brain-dead by the time he had been found inside the building.

Now, his mum Cheryl Reynolds, 46, has paid tribute to her “amazing” son – and said: “I cannot let him die in vain.”

Mum-of-four Cheryl is using Ethan’s death as a warning to parents of other ‘urban explorers’ to be aware of the risks that their children are taking.

She said: “I don’t want this to happen to anyone else. I don’t want another parent to get that call.

“I always used to tell Ethan not to climb up on roofs or do anything silly – when we had scaffolding on our house I had to tell him not to climb up that, but he still did.

“Ethan had ADHD, so he was a bit like a little boy trapped in a man’s body. He still loved doing things that young children do, like climbing trees.

“He would do random things and didn’t think about the consequences. He also suffered from anxiety, so things like this helped him to clear his mind.

“For years I have worried about him – but this is the worst possible outcome.”



Cheryl added that she has spoken to Devon and Cornwall Police about getting the Dairy Crest factory boarded up – as another person also died there last year.

She said: “It’s now taken another life.

“When I went down there the day after Ethan’s body was found, police still hadn’t done anything to stop other people going inside while they investigated.

“I have now spoken to the police and they said they are going to look to get the place boarded up.”

Cheryl recalls the panic she felt when her son didn’t return home on Tuesday night – after Ethan’s girlfriend had told Cheryl where he was.

She said: “He’d sent a picture to his girlfriend on the Tuesday afternoon of him on the roof of the building.

“Then when she didn’t hear from him again, she got in touch with me and told me where he was.

“I knew that his friends at university had been talking about that abandoned milk factory for a while, and wanting to go check it out.

“He would always message me to say he was fine and that he was on his way home – so when he didn’t do that, I straight away started to panic.

“I phoned the police, and they put out a medium-risk missing person alert – but I just couldn’t get to sleep that night knowing he wasn’t home.

“I ended up driving down there at four o’clock in the morning in the early hours of Wednesday.

“His bike was still chained up outside the train station next door – he’d cycled down there with the intention of going for a long cycle after he’d been to the factory.

“That’s when I knew that he had never left the factory.”

Cheryl said that as well as Ethan’s fractured skull, he had suffered two broken wrists from his fall.

And she has paid tribute to her son, calling him “amazing” and a “cheeky chappy”.

She said: “He loved being around his family, and he did everything to make us proud.

“He went to university for us – he was studying illustration at Plymouth University, and he couldn’t wait to go back there in September.

“He wanted to be a tattoo artists – he was really into his tattoos, and his drawing.”

Ethan was also on the organ donor register – and his heart, livers and kidney have all been donated.

Cheryl said he was an “amazing person” and a proud sibling to brothers Michael, 28, and Tate, eight, as well as sister Taylor, 12.

She said: “He was always happy to play with his little brother, and take his sister out shopping. He always said Taylor was going to be the smart one of the family.

“He was my rock,” she added.

Cheryl has launched a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs of Ethan’s memorial service – which has raised over £4,000 in less than 24 hours.

To donate, click here.

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