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DOL/MSHA Media Adivisory
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Kathy Snyder
Phone: (202) 693-9422

Released Friday, August 16, 2002

News Release

Rash of Quarry Drownings Prompts Renewed Warnings

ARLINGTON, Va. - A recent spate of drownings in the United States has prompted the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to reissue warnings about the dangers of swimming in active and abandoned quarries and gravel pits. Since early July, MSHA has documented nine deaths at mine sites frequented by adult and teenage swimmers. Three drownings occurred in Pennsylvania, while Indiana, Michigan, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York and Vermont each accounted for one.

"Each one of these deaths is tragic, yet totally preventable," said Dave D. Lauriski, assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health. "Quarries may seem like enjoyable places to take a dip, but they are nothing like a backyard pool or a mountain lake. They are riddled with hidden hazards that make them extremely dangerous places to swim."

Water-filled quarries and pits may conceal rock ledges and old mining machinery beneath the surface. The water can be deceptively deep and dangerously cold, which often leads to cramping among even experienced swimmers. Steep, slippery walls make exiting these swimming holes extremely difficult.

MSHA's public awareness campaign, "Stay Out-Stay Alive," educates children and adults about the dangers of swimming in old quarries and playing on mine property. More than 70 federal and state agencies, private organizations and businesses are partners in this effort.

Since 1999, more than 100 people have died in recreational accidents on active and abandoned mine sites.

For more information about "Stay Out-Stay Alive" and a list of fatalities, visit MSHA's web site at