PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Police and rescue officials in Rhode Island and Massachusetts have responded to more than a dozen incidents at mining properties and quarries over last 10 years, many of which resulted in fatalities, according to archived records compiled by WPRI.com.
According to the U.S. Dept. of Labor Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), dozens of people lose their lives in recreational accidents on both active and abandoned mine properties every year. MSHA said water-filled quarries are among the most dangerous mining properties, as they often have slippery slopes, unstable rock ledges and old machinery concealed under murky water. A piece of MSHA literature warns of recreational use of quarries, saying “even expert swimmers may encounter trouble in the dangerously cold and deceptively deep waters.”
Nationwide, there have been 241 quarry deaths in the last 10 years. Half of those fatal incidents involved victims who were between 15-25 years old.
The victims in these accidents, many of whom were teenagers, died or seriously injured themselves while swimming, hiking, rock-climbing or bicycling in or around the quarries. Others, like 18-year-old Nentor Dahn in the area’s most recent accident, drowned after jumping off a ledge into a quarry.
“People are swimming in dark areas that they don’t know and potentially put themselves in danger,” Capt. Phillip Gould with the Lincoln Police Dept. said. “For a good time and to cool off, go swimming, but there are definitely better and safer ways to do it.”
In Rhode and Massachusetts, WPRI.com found 17 incidents – including the fall that led to Dahn’s death – that took place at various quarries or mining properties over the last decade.
The following incidents were reported by either Eyewitness News or other Massachusetts-based news outlets from 2004-2014.
July 7, 2014: Milford, Mass. | Eyewitness News
Rescue crews recover the body of a Providence teenager who jumped into the water a rock quarry in Milford. The teen, along with four other friends, jumped off a 40-foot cliff, police said.
July 8, 2013: Lowell, Mass. | Lowell Sun
A 26-year-old Nashua man drowns at the Merrill Quarry in Lowell, according to the Lowell Sun.
June 11, 2012: Ashland, Mass. | Eyewitness News
Rescue crews locate a man who fell into a rock quarry. The man was hundreds of feet above the water when he lost his balance and fell more than 25 feet onto a remote ledge, crews told Eyewitness News. Police said the area the man was found is private property and the man was not legally permitted to be there.
July 1, 2011: Lincoln, R.I. | Eyewitness News
A search-and-rescue mission turns into a recovery operation after a teenage jumped into a quarry and never resurfaced. The 18-year-old, along with three of his friends, jumped into the Old Harris Limestone quarry, which – according to a nearby quarry owner – is nearly 90 feet deep and contains debris in the water.
June 8, 2010: Sagus, Mass. | The Daily Item
Firefighters rescue a 32-year-old man stranded on the side of a rock quarry. Rescue crews said the man appeared to have been rock climbing but had no equipment.
Oct. 28, 2009:Freetown, Mass.| Eyewitness News
A man falls 80 feet off a cliff in Freetown State Forest. Police said several people were gathered around a bonfire when Paulo Oliveira stepped back to avoid the fire and fell off the ledge. He was found dead in a pond at the base of the quarry.
August 20, 2009: Gloucester, Mass.| Gloucester Daily Times
A 23-year-old woman is hospitalized after she fell more than 15 feet onto a rock ledge at the Steel Derrick quarry.
July 2, 2009: North Adams, Mass. | North Adams Transcript
A 36-year-old man dies after crashing his truck into a limestone quarry.
June 19, 2009: Quincy, Mass. | The Patriot Ledger
A 21-year-old Marine drowns while swimming in an abandoned quarry.
August 16, 2008: Quincy, Mass. | The Patriot Ledger
An 18-year-old man is rescued from a quarry at the Fore River shipyard. Police said the victim hurt his shoulder when he jumped into the quarry. The victim survived.
May 28, 2007: Milford, Mass. | Boston Globe
A 16-year-old boy drowns after jumping into a quarry and hitting his head on a rock.
Oct. 29, 2007: Freetown, Mass. | South Coast Today
A 34-year-old falls to his death at an abandoned quarry in the Freetown state forest. Rescue officials said the victim lost his footing on the slick rock surface and fell about 80 feet.
June 19, 2006: Marshfield, Mass. | Marshville Mariner
A 33-year-old man is found dead in a gravel pit. Officials said the man was dirt biking along a rocky path, hit a rock and tumbled over the bike.
March 28, 2005: Coventry, R.I. | Eyewitness News
A teenager is rescued after spending more than four hours stuck waist-deep in mud. Officials said the teenager was hiking in the woods near Weaver Hill Road when he became stuck. He was treated for hypothermia and ultimately survived.
Oct. 3, 2004: Bristol, Mass. | The Bristol Press
A 27-year-old man dies after riding his dirt bike over a 30-foot cliff. Police said the area on which the victim was biking was private property and off-limits for recreational use.
June 16, 2004: North Andover, Mass. | North Andover Citizen
An 18-year-old man drowned in an abandoned quarry while swimming with his friends. Officials said several signs were posted near the isolated pond, which is owned by the National Park Service, warning people not to swim in the water.
April 3, 2004: Westminster, Mass. | Sentinel & Enterprise
A 22-year-old man is seriously injured while riding his dirt bike through a gravel pit. The owner of the gravel pit said the area was off-limits and gated.
In 1999, MSHA launched a campaign to increase awareness about the hazards at abandoned quarries and mines. The campaign, called “Stay Out-Stay Alive” involves school visits, social groups and community events across the nation.
For more facts and safety tips, scroll through the interactive fact sheet below: