Teenager dies after taking the ice bucket challenge and jumping into quarry

Cameron Lancaster, 18, died at Prestonhill Quarry in Inverkeithing, Fife in Scotland

Cameron Lancaster
Cameron Lancaster

A teenager in Scotland has died after taking part in the ice bucket challenge, the fundraising craze that involves people having ice-cold water poured over their heads and sharing video footage of the act on social media.

Cameron Lancaster, 18, reportedly took part in the challenge on Sunday evening at Prestonhill Quarry in Inverkeithing, Fife. He did the challenge and then jumped into the quarry, but didn’t resurface, according to reports.

Lancaster’s death is the first to have been linked to the ice bucket challenge. As of this morning, the craze had raised more than £1m in the UK for the Motor Neurone Disease Association.

Macmillan Cancer Support, which has also received donations totalling more than £2m from the challenge, has been criticised for allegedly "hijacking" a campaign that has raised more than £48m in the US for the ALS Association, which supports people with motor neurone disease.  

Macmillan attracted complaints on Twitter after it launched a paid-for campaign, using Google AdWords and Facebook adverts, to promote the challenge.

This means that people searching for the term "ice bucket challenge" using Google will see a link at the top of the search results directing them to the challenge on the Macmillan website.

Ben Welch, head of fundraising development at Macmillan, said it was not trying to hijack the campaign.

"We do not actively use Google with other charities’ terms in mind," he said. "We are listening to feedback and constantly reviewing and revising our campaign."

Macmillan said it received its first donation from the challenge on 23 July and decided to promote it more widely after its supporters noticed that several cancer charities based in New Zealand were raising money through the craze.

It said the campaign was not started by any one charity but by supporters and that it had wanted to be more proactive after being criticised for holding back during the #nomakeupselfie campaign, which raised £8m for Cancer Research UK in six days earlier this year.

The ice bucket challenge has attracted controversy in the past week. Some have described it as a PR stunt for the large number of celebrities who have participated; others point out that the flawed logic in some iterations of the challenge, which require people to either douse themselves with water or donate to charity, mean that many participants give nothing at all.

Elsewhere, protesters in China’s Henan province, which is being affected by a drought, are urging citizens not to take part in the challenge because it wastes water.

The US State Department has forbidden diplomats from taking part so as to avoid favouring particular charities; and doctors have warned of the risks of the challenge to elderly people, pregnant women and people with heart conditions.

Susannah Birkwood

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