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Widow helps to highlight dangers of swimming in disused quarries

By Claire McNeilly

Published 18/05/2015

Drowned: Kevin O'Hare
Drowned: Kevin O'Hare

A new safety campaign has been launched to prevent people from swimming in disused quarry lakes.

It follows the deaths of Colin Polland (39) and 15-year-old Kevin O'Hare almost two years ago.

Mr Polland, originally from Co Down but who lived in Ilford, Essex, died trying to save the Dromara teenager at a remote quarry near Annalong in June 2013.

An inquest heard how the water in which both victims drowned was extremely deep and bitterly cold.

Mr Polland's widow Adele and two police officers, who also attempted a rescue bid, described the debilitating effects of the icy water. Mrs Polland said: "I felt a lot of pressure around my lungs, felt myself starting to have difficulty breathing.

"(It happened) very quickly when I got to the deep, coldest part of the water."

An audit of abandoned quarries was carried out by the 11 district councils in a bid to identify the main dangers.

Environment Minister Mark H Durkan, whose department oversees the local authorities, said there were many risks associated with disused quarries.

"Quarry water is a stone cold killer. A sudden plunge into cold water initiates a gasp response, which can cause drowning within seconds. It also prevents one holding their breath if their head is submerged," he said.

Justice Minister David Ford, whose department has supported the safety campaign, said: "It is crucial that people understand how dangerous abandoned quarries are and the risks they are taking when they trespass into one."

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