Officials from Albemarle and Nelson counties held a press conference June 20 to address and educate the public on the dangers of the quarries in the counties and the precautions being taken to prevent any more incidents like the one that occurred at the beginning of June.
The joint press conference to address safety and trespassers swimming and cliff diving at the quarries was held after Henry Morin, 18, of Doswell, died at a quarry in Albemarle the week of June 3. His body was found June 6 and the case remains under investigation.
There are many quarries in the area, all located on private property. The pits range from 80 to 160 feet deep. The quarries, surrounded by slick soapstone, are a popular swimming destination for people in the summer, despite the known and unknown dangers and the “no trespassing” signs hung around the area.
In early June, Chadd Minor, who leases the land where the quarries are located, said they have always been a popular summer destination for people to swim, despite everything he has done to prevent that from happening. Now, with the death of Morin, officials are cracking down.
At the press conference, Captain Darrell Byers, from the Albemarle Police Department and Major Larry Cindrick, of the Nelson County Sheriff’s Office, discussed what each respective department is doing to ensure people stay off the quarry properties.
“We have and will continue to educate and discuss the dangers and concerns surrounding quarries when encountering individuals at quarry locations during patrols and responses to calls to service,” Cindrick said. “It is our hope that through these contacts and discussions about the dangers that lie beneath these waters we’ll deter individuals from returning to these posted locations in the future.”
Nelson County Commonwealth’s Attorney Daniel Rutherford and Albemarle County Supervisor Liz Palmer encouraged the public to visit legal areas in both counties including the James River, Wintergreen, and Shenandoah National Park.
“I want to make sure everyone knows all the legal, wonderful things to do in Nelson County and Albemarle in the summer,” Palmer said.
The Nelson County Sheriff’s Office has been issuing summonses to those found on the property as is the Albemarle Police Department. Captain Byers said it is hard to enforce existing trespassing laws at the quarry where Morin was found due to the terrain, but they are focused on working with officials to “eradicate this dangerous behavior.” Officials said they won’t take it easy on people caught trespassing in order to deter others.
“It will not be tolerated in Nelson and I know it will not be tolerated in Albemarle,” Rutherford said.
Erin Conway covers Nelson County for the News and Advance. Reach her at (434) 385-5524.