A string of abandoned quarries in Nelson and Albemarle counties where a teen’s body was recovered last week have drawn scrutiny as the weather warms and the community and public safety officials work to discourage people from swimming in deep ponds on the sites.
According to the Albemarle County Police Department’s Facebook page, the body of 18-year-old Henry Christian Morin of Doswell was found Thursday. The suspected drowning was called into the Nelson County Sheriff’s Department at about 6 p.m. Tuesday.
The cause of death is under investigation by the Albemarle police and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, the Richmond Times-Dispatch has reported.
The Schuyler Quarries are a multitude of quarries located along the border of Nelson and Albemarle counties. Although they are all on private property some of them are popular swimming places in the summer, despite the deep waters containing unknown dangers and slick, steep foundations of soapstone.
“Kids just can’t do this anymore. It’s just so sad what happened to this young boy,” Sheila Mae, of Schuyler, said.
Mae said a Friends of Schuyler group formed in January to address issues in the community. At its most recent meeting on June 1—attended by Supervisor Jesse Rutherford, East District representative; Daniel Rutherford, Commonwealth’s Attorney; and Sheriff David Hill—members spoke about the need for policing in the quarry area.
“We were approaching it from the standpoint that it creates a traffic problem. They park all over the place and get inebriated and get belligerent when asked to move a car,” Mae said.
Mae said the people who swim in the quarries also often leave behind debris including clothes, beer cans, condoms, and drug paraphernalia.
Since April 1, 71 summons have been served by the Nelson County Sheriff’s Department for individuals trespassing onto the property to get to one of the quarries located in Nelson County.
Chadd Minor, who leases the land said all of the quarries in the area spread between Nelson and Albemarle are potentially dangerous for visitors and of concern to residents in the area.
“This is terrible what happened. It’s awful,” Minor said about Morin.
Hill said concerns about trespassing in the area started to grow in August of last year. Despite the “no trespassing” signs, the quarries remained an attraction for people in the summer. Hill said when the weather gets warmer, his department sees a spike in concern, and recently has decided to prosecute trespassers they catch in Nelson County.
“I didn’t realize how dangerous they were. It’s like walking on ice,” Hill said after taking a trip to one of the quarries with Minor to help put up more “no trespassing” signs on June 1 after others were taken down.
Minor, who has worked on quarries for almost 10 years, said the quarries in Schuyler are some of the most dangerous he’s seen due to the soapstone and its slick, icy-like nature. Minor said he can see where large stones “in excess of millions of pounds” have slid off into the quarry and no one can know when the foundation will slide again.
“That’s my big push toward trying to keep people out. It’s generations of people. They have always swam here,” Minor said.
Minor said some of the quarries can be as deep as 160 feet, and fears the one Morin was in was closer to that depth, saying it’s one of the bigger pits.
“It’s private property. It’s not a park. Unfortunately, with all the efforts I have been putting into stopping it, it’s taken this to maybe be an eye opener to realize this is dangerous,” Minor said.