A MOTHER whose teenage son died in a disused quarry in Derbyshire has backed a safety campaign to raise awareness of the hazards of quarries.
Fifteen-year-old Ryan Walker drowned while swimming in abandoned Far Hill Quarry, locally known as the ‘Blue Lagoon’, near Ashover, on May 31, 2009.
This week, his mum, Tracey Walker, has supported a drive highlighting the tragic consequences of trespassing into quarries with hidden, life-threatening dangers including ice-cold lakes, steep cliffs, falling rocks and quicksand pools.
The Stay Safe campaign is run by the Mineral Products Association (MPA) on behalf of the quarrying industry.
Tearful Mrs Walker, 34, of Clay Cross, said: “Kids think they’re indestructible and nothing will happen to them, but look what happened to Ryan.
“He died after going into a quarry that looked like a tropical paradise.
“It was a lovely, sunny day – but nobody knows the dangers of getting into the water.
“It’s almost two years since I lost Ryan – and I don’t want any other parent to go through this.
“Every day, I think about him.
“Every day, I miss him, I miss him so much. It breaks my heart.”
Ryan, a student at Tupton Hall School and Alfreton College, enjoyed spending time with friends and family, listening to music and computing.
“He was a fun-loving, popular and outgoing lad with a cheeky smile,” added Mrs Walker, who has called for more safety measures at quarries.
Elizabeth Clements, of the MPA, said: “Unless you are invited on an organised visit by a quarry operator, our message is clear: stay safe, stay out of quarries.”
Nigel Jackson, chief executive of the MPA, criticised websites encouraging youngsters to enter quarries.
“YouTube carries numerous clips of teenagers ‘tombstombing’ – jumping into water from very high places – at a quarry,” he said.
Over the summer, MPA will be involved in a range of community activities, including school and quarry visits, to help raise awareness as part of the campaign, which has a group, called ‘Stay Safe... Stay Out Of Quarries’, on Facebook.
Mrs Walker said she will take part in a commemorative walk to Far Hill Quarry next Tuesday to hold a minute’s silence and lay flowers in memory of Ryan – two years since he died.
“I’ll never forget him,” she said.