LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - We're taking a closer look at quarries after an Ozark man drowned during a weekend swim with friends.
We have plenty of these swimming holes here in Central Arkansas. And in a lot of cases, these quarries are on private land. But that doesn't always keep folks away from what appears on the surface to be calm and clear water. It's an inviting way to cool down but one that can quickly turn dangerous and deadly.
"It's been a long time since this has been mined, mined for rock and the water has reverted back to more of a lake than to a rock quarry," says Lt. Tim Hibbs with the Water Patrol Division of the Pulaski County Sheriff's Office.
It's a deceptive scene at this quarry near Sweet Home and one that Lt. Hibbs says you want to avoid.
"Stay away from the quarries, it's much better to go to the city swimming pool if one's available to you," Lt. Hibbs said.
Why? Well Hibbs says it starts with what's often underneath this water.
"There's barbed wire, utility wire, rope, all kinds of things, there is actually a car in this one and automotive parts," Lt. Hibbs said.
They are dangers that Hibbs says presents serious entanglement hazards. There is also serious depth in quarries and more than likely will catch you off guard.
This quarry is at least 60, 65 feet deep and it gets that way very suddenly," Lt. Hibbs said. "You can be walking along in waist deep water and you're in over your head very quickly."
It's a clear reminder to stay clear of these off-the beaten path swimming holes and enjoy summer somewhere else.
"Far too often there are drowning fatalities in the summer months and far too often they can all be avoided and all be prevented," Lt. Hibbs said.
Lt. Hibbs, who escorted us to the quarry in our story, also points out that it's illegal to be in these quarries to begin with since many are on private property. So there's a tress-passing charge to worry about, along with all those swimming dangers. One more of those, according to Lt. Hibbs, is that quarries are often in isolated areas and it's more difficult for emergency crews to respond.
In the recent Ozark case, authorities say the 63-year-old victim went under the water briefly for some unknown reason and was then pulled out by his friends. The man died at scene.