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Gullet Quarry - second death in just six days after tragic death of Russell O'Neill
A BODY has been pulled from a quarry - six days after the death of another man at the same spot.
The body of the man, aged in his 20s, was recovered shortly before 7pm from Gullet Quarry, Hollybush, near Welland after police received a 999 call at about 4.44pm.
The death comes just six days after the death of 17-year-old Russell O’Neill of Ronkswood, Worcester, at the same spot last Saturday.
An eyewitness who gave his first name as Laurence said he was at the lefthand side of the quarry and when the man got into difficulties in the water on the right side. Two young women were seen being taken from the scene by a police car in tears and police are understood to be speaking to the man’s sister, cousin and girlfriend who were present at the quarry at the time.
The man, who was with his girlfriend at the quarry, said: “He was in the water then he said ‘help!’ But he said it really calmly. Then he went under the water. I looked over to see if he needed help. I saw him come to the surface and he said ‘help’ again. He looked like he was swimming no problem, treading water. I thought he was messing around and I looked away and then, all of a sudden, a girl started screaming ‘he’s not come back up!’ and people started getting in the water to look for him. Three or four lads got in to try and help. If he had screamed help there would have been people straight in the water.”
He later saw around five boats from the fire and rescue service, three or four of them manned, as firefighters searched the water with poles.
Friends of Russell O’Neill including school friend Oliver Richards, aged 17, and Antonio Machado, 17, who all attended Blessed Edward Oldcorne Catholic College in Worcester together, were there to pay their respect to him on the day of the new tragedy.
Mr Richards, who described Mr O’Neill as one of his best friends, said: “I was coming to a vigil here tonight. I still can’t believe it. They should fill in the quarry, stop people going in there. They need to wake up. People were in there 24 hours after he died - it was disrespectful.”
His sister, 30-year-old Hazel Richards of Battenhall Road, Worcester, said: “It’s sad. People say “there’s signs up. People should pay attention”. They’re sat there in the sun, having a drink and egging each other on. They’re not going to pay any attention to the danger. I don’t see how many more lives have to be lost before something is done. A couple of signs is no good.”
Police cordoned off the immediate area and Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service deployed two boat crews to the scene along with a water first responder team. They recovered a body from the lake shortly before 7pm and death was confirmed at the scene.
Police officers were still speaking to witnesses this evening and an investigation has been launched into the circumstances.
Superintendent Ivan Powell of West Mercia Police said: “This latest death also appears to be a tragic accident and our thoughts are with the man’s family and friends.
“The shocking events of the past week bring into sharp focus the dangers of open water. Particularly in view of the current hot spell we would urge people not to go into rivers, lakes, ponds and canals to try to cool off.
“People need to recognise the risks associated with water and act responsibly. Bearing in mind that the summer holidays are fast approaching we would also ask parents to monitor where their children may be playing and also speak to them about the dangers.”
Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service Group Commander George Marshall added: “The water may look enticing but even on a hot day it can be extremely cold, leading to sudden cramp, and subject to strong currents which can catch out even the strongest of swimmers.
“There could also be obstacles and other debris hidden under the water which could trap or injure someone. Many pools and quarry lakes are also very deep and certainly not safe to swim in.”
Present at the scene were two ambulance crews, an advanced community paramedic in a rapid response vehicle, the Midlands Air Ambulance from Strensham and members of the Hazardous Area Response Team. Other emergency services also attended.
For John Woodhall, a water rescue specialist with West Midlands Ambulance Service, it was his second call to the quarry within a week. He said: “I’ve been here twice now. How many more people need to die before someone takes notice of our warnings of the dangers of swimming in open waters?”
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