Girl, 15, injured in fall at quarry in Westford

Girl, 15, injured in fall at quarry in WestfordWESTFORD — A 15-year-old girl was hospitalized with minor injuries yesterday after she slipped and fell 30 to 40 feet from a ledge at the Merrill Quarry, where other teens have been seriously injured in the past. Fire Chief Richard Rochon said the girl was with unidentified relatives at the quarry, located about a quarter-mile back from Vineland Road, when she slipped and fell about 3:50 p.m. Her name and address were not available. Firefighters think the girl may have struck a ledge on her way down because she suffered abrasions and complained of back and leg pain after rescue crews used a boat to pull her from the water, Lt. Bob Benoit said. Rochon said crews put a Fire Department boat in the water so they could get across the quarry to pull the girl out, although she knows how to swim and was not in immediate danger of drowning. He said crews put the girl on a backboard and loaded her into a Trinity Ambulance, which was able to drive most of the way back to the scene before driving her out and taking her to Lowell General Hospital about 4:45 p.m. The girl’s condition was not immediately available last night, but Rochon described her injuries as minor. The same quarry was the site of an accident Aug. 8, 2002, in which a 17-year-old boy was seriously injured when he jumped off a ledge about 50 feet above the water before hitting rocks along the edge of the quarry’s basin. That boy suffered head, shoulder and leg injuries, and had to be flown to Boston Medical Center by a medical helicopter. He survived. Rochon said the quarry is on private property and that the girl and her relatives were not authorized to swim there. Police would not say last night whether charges would be filed. Benoit warned that while swimming in quarries may seem appealing, the water can hold invisible dangers. He said the water can be deceptively shallow and that rocks, or even old cars and other metal objects can be hidden under the surface, posing a serious danger to anyone diving in. He said the girl was lucky that a large number of firefighters were able to respond to the scene. He said people should remember that even if they are able to contact authorities from the remote locations of quarries, it can take crews a long time to respond to such locations with the equipment necessary for a water rescue, Benoit said. “There’s a lot of negatives to swimming quarries,” Benoit said. “I know it appears to be nice, clean water, but the negatives outweigh the positives.”

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