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MSHA News Release No. 2001-0525
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (703) 235-1452

Released Friday, May 25, 2001


Robin Schell lost her teenage son last summer when he drowned in a nearby abandoned quarry. "It was supposed to be a fun day swimming with friends at the local swimming hole," she says, "but Jeremy never made it out alive."

   Jason Peterson was luckier. He spent an afternoon at the same quarry and says, "It was almost the last thing I ever did alive." Jason lost his footing on a cliff, fell 100 feet, and landed face down in six inches of water.

   Robin and Jason share their recollections of tragedy and near-tragedy in public service announcements released this week by the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). These PSAs are being distributed to television stations nationwide in conjunction with Memorial Day weekend.

   "There are thousands of active and abandoned quarries scattered throughout the country," said Dave Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "We hope these public service announcements will help alert young people and their parents to the dangers associated with swimming in such places.

   "I've also had personal experience with rescues from abandoned mines and can testify that, parents, you don't want your kids to play in these places," said Lauriski.

   Water-filled quarries and pits conceal rock ledges, old mining machinery and other hazards. The water can be deceptively deep and dangerously cold. Steep, slippery walls make exiting these swimming holes extremely difficult.

   MSHA produced the public service announcements as part of a public awareness campaign called "Stay Out'stay Alive." The campaign will educate children and adults about the hazards that exist at active and abandoned mine sites. Every year, dozens of people are injured or killed while exploring or playing on mine property.

   Participants in the campaign include more than 50 federal and state agencies, private organizations, businesses and individuals who visit schools and communities to discuss the dangers of playing on and exploring mine property.

   Attention TV and Radio Public Service Directors: To make sure you receive a copy of the PSA, contact Amy Louviere at (703) 235-1452. The PSAs also are available through the Department of Labor's radio actuality service at 1-800-877-9002.