Gilboa Quarry Owner on Hot Seat after Spate of Deaths - News, Weather, Sports, Toledo, OH

Gilboa Quarry Owner on Hot Seat after Spate of Deaths

Quarry owner Mike Williams answered questions on Friday. Quarry owner Mike Williams answered questions on Friday.
Diving instructor David Kasper says the deaths are just coincidence. Diving instructor David Kasper says the deaths are just coincidence.
But some are questioning if four deaths since April can be coincidental. But some are questioning if four deaths since April can be coincidental.

PUTNAM COUNTY -- Is the Gilboa Quarry a death trap for scuba divers? Four people have died at the quarry since April.

The most recent happened last weekend. Authorities say the first two divers died from equiptment failure and panic and the third from health problems.

Putnam County Sheriff James Beutler says the latest victim also most likely died from health problems. All four are described as experienced divers. So what's going on here?

The man on the hot seat is quarry owner Mike Williams. He gathered law enforcement officials, instructors and other divers to answer questions and defend the quarry's safety record to reporters.

First questions: Why so many deaths in such a short period of time? "I think it's just a collision of events," says David Kasper, diving instructor. "People pass away at one time or another in their lives and every now and then a diver passes away while diving. Circumstances come together which brought attention to this."

Even the Putnam County Sheriff's Department is stunned by the deaths. Officials confirm the safety record here is near spotless. "People die from heat exhaustion or fall get hurt. But as far as diving related deaths -- very minimal and has been over the years," says Beutler.

At its deepest point, the quarry is 140 ft. What safety measures are in place? Among other things, divers are banded to determine their level of experience. If they're headed into deep water, they have to fill out a deep dive profile and provide a log book.

"I couldn't begin to tell you how many divers get logged in here. But it's probably several hundred thousand. Not divers, but dives that get logged," says Williams.

Posted by KO

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