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Swimmer drowns at Fredericksburg quarry

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

UPDATE from Fredericksburg Police Department: The victim in last night’s incident at the quarry was 18-year-old Anthony Mandel Johnson, Jr.

The Medical Examiner has ruled that the cause and manner of Johnson’s death was accidental drowning.

Young witnesses cry after a 19-year-old swimmer, located by rescue divers, is taken by ambulance from the Fredericksburg quarry. / Photo by Scott Julian

Young witnesses cry after a 19-year-old swimmer, located by rescue divers, is taken by ambulance from the Fredericksburg quarry. / Photo by Scott Julian

CITY POLICE BLOTTER: Young man drowns at city quarry

An evening swim at the Fredericksburg quarry ended tragically Monday night after an 18-year-old man slipped beneath the surface of the water while swimming with friends.

Divers responded to the quarry and located the missing man in less than an hour, according to Mike Jones, deputy chief of Fredericksburg Fire and Rescue.

He was transported to Mary Washington Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, said city police spokeswoman Natatia Bledsoe.

“All lifesaving measures were taken as soon as they recovered him, and on the way to the hospital,” Bledsoe said.

The 19 year-old, whose last-known address was in Triangle, had been swimming with a group that included three young women ages 15, 17 and 21, Bledsoe said.

The victim’s name has not been released pending notification of next of kin, she said.

A 911 call about the swimmer came in at 7:38 p.m., Bledsoe said. The man was located within 45 minutes after divers with Fredericksburg and Stafford fire and rescue departments arrived. Jones said he was then taken to the hospital.

Detectives also responded, and the investigation is ongoing, according to officials.

Bledsoe said people at the quarry tried to assist in the man’s recovery before rescuers arrived.

Witnesses at the quarry said the victim was trying to reach a rope swing when he disappeared. His friends tried to reach him, the witnesses said.

One person extended a tree branch and another managed to grasp the distressed swimmer’s hand briefly before losing contact, the witnesses said.

Four young women, two of whom were visibly distressed, remained on the scene with detectives after the rescue effort ended.

The quarry is on private property off Wicklow Drive in the Bragg Hill area of the city. There are a number of access points.

There were prominent no-trespassing signs visible Monday night off Gordon W. Shelton Boulevard near a locked gate—which had a worn dirt path weaving around it. That access point is in Celebrate Virginia South.

A similar sign is visible in the Bragg Hill area, at the end of Wicklow Drive near the water.

On May 4, 2006, 19-year-old University of Mary Washington sophomore Cary Noyes drowned at the quarry.

The Maine native had gone to the quarry with at least five friends to enjoy the warm weather.

Witnesses said members of that group had swum out about 50 feet when one of them looked back and saw the victim struggling. He quickly went down in about 30 feet of water and didn’t resurface.

Veteran emergency workers at the 2006 scene said they could not recall another fatal swimming incident at the quarry, though there have been plenty in the nearby Rappahannock River.

Dawnthea Price 540/374-5403

dprice@freelancestar.com

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