That Old Swimming Hole Might Not Be Safe


June 23, 2015 / Personal Injury

For those who don’t have access to a pool, a lake, or a refreshing stream, summertime may send them in search of a different kind of place to cool off when the temperatures soar. Often, it is our youth and young adults who are attracted to abandoned quarries and mines as places to swim, dive, and “hang out.”

Generally, abandoned mines and quarries—of which Indiana has several—are not safe places to explore.

Nationwide, accidents in abandoned quarries and mines take 20 to 30 peoples’ lives every year, with drowning the most common cause of death at abandoned quarry and mine sites.

Indiana suffers its share of injuries and even fatalities most years as well. As an example, in Bloomington, Rooftop Quarry is popular because it was made famous by the 1979 movie “Breaking Away.” Youth trying to replicate stunts from the movie have ended up injured or as fatalities.

Why Swimming in Quarries is So Dangerous

Swimming in quarries is different than swimming in a lake or a stream. For one thing, quarries have no shoreline—they are deep right from the edge, with nothing gradual about the level of the water. The water is often much colder than a pool or a lake, nearly freezing in temperature at times, which can cause cramping. Even strong swimmers can get cramps. Because quarries are so deep, there’s no bottom for swimmers to touch and safely rest on. Quarry cliffs can also be slippery, and can crumble.

Quarries, because they were (or are) industrial or mining sites, often have hidden dangers. Abandoned machinery or jagged rocks can be hiding just below the surface, making quarries exceedingly dangerous places to jump or dive into. Quarries can even be hiding live downed power lines.

2015 a Deadly Year at Quarries

This year, nearby states have already suffered quarry fatalities. Since the beginning of April, in Tennessee, three deaths have occurred in the same Knoxville area quarry. Neighboring Ohio has also experienced a recent quarry death. Ohio historically has had the highest number of abandoned quarry and mine deaths in the nation; Indiana is one of the states which has had almost as many as Ohio (the other states are Pennsylvania, Arizona, and California).

After the death in 2013 of a woman who went swimming at Indiana Limestone Company’s Empire Quarry, Lawrence County Sheriff Sam Craig noted that trespassing at quarries is, unfortunately, not unusual. “We worked one here a while back where some kids were swimming and one of them dove in and hit a ledge, and it appears that they know that it’s dangerous, but it just appears that they feel like it won’t happen to them,” he said.

Don’t be an accident waiting to happen, and don’t allow your children to be one, either. Stay safe this summer — do not swim in abandoned quarries and mines. And explain to your kids why quarries are not just big bathtubs.

When others breach their duty, we keep ours.

Many quarry and mine owners do what they can to keep out those who would swim there or treat such places as parks. However, if you or a loved one suffered an injury as the result of a quarry accident, and you believe negligence on the part of the quarry or mine owner was involved, you deserve compensation. Keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations – or a deadline – for filing personal injury claims, so it is unwise to delay. Contact Mike Stephenson, the Indiana personal injury lawyer, today using our online form, or call 1-317-825-5200. The initial consultation is always free. At Stephenson Rife, we believe justice matters.

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