MOTHER OF DROWNED BOY IN HANSON QUARRY THREATENS LEGAL ACTION

MOTHER OF DROWNED BOY IN HANSON QUARRY THREATENS LEGAL ACTION 31 October 2003 (UK) The mother of a teenager who drowned in a disused quarry has threatened legal action against the company which owns the site. College student Ben Mason, from Ridge Green Close in Odd Down, Bath, died after diving off a 60ft cliff into the treacherous waters of Holcombe quarry.The gifted footballer and basketball player had just started his summer break from a course at the City of Bath College, and he had been due to return to college this autumn to study computing.Ben had previously attended both Culverhay and Beechen Cliff schools.At an inquest yesterday, the coroner heard that the 16-year-old and four of his friends had bypassed two sets of security fences at the 35-acre site near Shepton Mallet, which is managed by quarrying giant Hanson Aggregates.A verdict of accidental death was recorded but Ben’s mother Donna said she felt the security at the site, which is a magnet for thrill-seekers on hot summer days, had been inadequate.At the time of Ben’s death, a security guard was employed from 9am-9pm, with high fences and rubble also in place to try to keep people out.Afterwards, six guards were put on duty, working around the clock during the hot weather to deter trespassers.Speaking after the inquest, Mrs Mason said she was still not satisfied that Hanson had done enough to prevent a repeat of the tragedy.She said: “My energy is going to go into taking legal advice.”It’s not right any other mother should have to go through what I am still going through. This company has to answer for that.”Ben was always smiling and was loved by everybody. He was a fit young man. I don’t know why he jumped in.”I just hope that kids out there who are thinking of going to the quarry realise it is not a friendly place.”Steven Smith, one of the friends with Ben at the time of his death on an evening in July, said that it was only when they had reached to the top of the cliff that he himself decided to dive over the edge.Two other teenage friends, who the coroner ordered should not be named because of their ages, told the inquest that Ben had told them he was scared of heights and could not swim.But before they could intervene, he had followed Steven into the water.Giving evidence, Steven said that at the top of the cliff edge, Ben had asked “What if I don’t come up?” to which he had replied that he would do his best to get him out.

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