Quarry Deaths Spotlight Safety

Putnam County, OH -- Why are so many divers dying at the Gilboa Quarry?

This weekend saw the fourth death there in as many months.

The Putnam County Sheriff's Department says initial results show this weekend's victim, Rebecca Budd, drowned at the quarry.

But diving experts say the quarry is a one-of-a-kind facility where they practice an extraordinary sport that can pose extraordinary risks.

Bubbles floating to the quarry's surface show where scuba divers swim down below.

There, it can seem like another planet, surrounded by fish, floating through submerged buses and planes.

But diving experts say it can also be a dangerous place.

"This is a sport where if you don't know what you're doing, you could get yourself seriously hurt or killed," says diving instructor, Jim Richards.

Rebecca Budd died near a dividing wall between the shallow and deeper areas of the quarry.

The sheriff's department says there's no evidence that her death and the three others was related to the quarry or its safety practices.

The sheriff says they have no plans to shut down or restrict diving at the quarry. They say, and experts agree, that safety is a diver's responsibility.

"Mt. Everest doesn't kill people, people kill themselves because they do things they're not capable of handling," says diving instructor, Jeff Davis, "they push themselves beyond their boundaries."

They say when it comes to diving safety the odds are in your favor.

"There's an average of maybe 200 incidents, worldwide," says diving instructor Jerrie Struble, "when you figure that, it's actually safer than most sports."

At the quarry, divers fill out waivers and present certificates to prove they know what they're doing.

"It's gonna get reviewed by the staff and they're gonna make sure that's within your limits," says Richards. He comes here every weekend from Michigan, he says it's the best place to train his students.

"I can tell you, personally," he says, "that the response time for helping people is probably the best I've ever been associated with."

Before these recent four deaths in four months, the quarry had a total of four water fatalities since 1996.