Fife Matters: Time for talking about death quarry has long gone

© DC Thomson

Three tragic deaths in the space of three years at the same location.

Yet there are still some who say that Prestonhill Quarry in Inverkeithing should still be used as a proper inland diving facility – a site which would attract sub-aqua enthusiasts from all around and demonstrate that it is not the death trap people perceive it to be.

Normally I’d be inclined to agree and give these sorts of things a chance, but the passing of mother-of-one Kelda Henderson just over a week ago has made my mind up.

Fence it off, drain it, fill it in. It doesn’t matter.

Something now has to be done to prevent any further loss of life.

It’s been argued that Miss Henderson’s death was very different to what’s happened before at the quarry.

And, on the face of it, that’s correct.

The 36-year-old school teacher clearly loved her outdoor pursuits and had been fully equipped with the appropriate diving equipment when she entered the water that Sunday evening.

We don’t yet know exactly what happened – whether something failed, whether there was something medically wrong or whether it was a tragic accident – but at the end of the day Miss Henderson’s friends and family have been left grieving.

Her death comes just two years after 18-year-old John McKay drowned at the flooded quarry, and that came less than a year after another 18-year-old Cameron Lancaster also lost his life.

The tragic events of last week would undoubtedly have brought painful memories back, not only to the families of John and Cameron but also the family of Robert O’Neil, who also died at the same quarry in 1973 aged just 12.

So I’m not quite sure how we can get to the point, 43 years after Robert’s death, that people can still be calling for safety improvements or somehow delay addressing the issue.

If there were three deaths in three years on a certain stretch of road, there would be a clamour for a much lower speed limit or permanent speed calming measures. That would probably be the case if just one person lost their life, to be honest.

So while I’m well aware of the historic ownership issues and the fact that infilling the quarry isn’t exactly going to be straightforward, the time for talking about what could be done has long gone.

The time for some sort of action is now.

 

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