July 17, 2014
At just 18 years old, Anthony Mandel Johnson, Jr. had a bright future ahead of him. He was recent graduate of Forrest Park High School in Virginia and an aspiring violin player with plans to attend college in Florida.
His bright future will never come to fruition following a tragedy at an abandoned Fredericksburg rock quarry.
Johnson and his friends ignored “No Trespassing” signs for a nighttime swim at the quarry. While swimming towards a rope swing, Johnson began to struggle. Friends tried to save him, but were unable to do so.
Emergency crews arrived around 10 minutes after receiving the 911 call. 45 minutes later dive teams found his him unresponsive and rushed him to the nearest hospital where he was pronounced dead, The Medical Examiner ruled his death an accidental drowning.
Although warning signs are posted all around the quarry, police will increase patrol in the area for the remainder of the summer.
The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) launched the “Stay Out-Stay Alive” public safety campaign in 1999 to educate the public about the hazards of active and abandoned mine sites. The Holmes Safety Association reports those hazards include the following:
• Vertical shafts that can be hundreds of feet deep;
• Horizontal openings with rotting timbers and unstable rock formations that pose the danger of cave-ins;
• Lethal concentrations of deadly gases;
• Unused or misfired explosives;
• Unstable highwalls;
• Hills of loose material in stockpiles that can collapse on unsuspecting hikers and bikers; and
• Water-filled sites that hide rock ledges, old machinery, and other hazards.
Through July 7, 2014, five drowning fatalities have been reported in U.S. quarries. For more information on the Stay Out-Stay Alive program, contact MSHA at 800-746-1553.