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Fence it off
Buy this photo » Augusto’s parents and friends make their heartbreaking plea. Picture: PHIL LOACH
THE devastated mum of a teenage boy who drowned in a Lower Gornal quarry has made a heart-rending plea for the site to be sealed off.
Fifteen-year-old Augusto Zacarias died in the quarry, known locally as the Blue Lagoon, behind The Crooked House pub, on July 25 after visiting with a group of friends.
A huge rescue operation was launched after non-swimmer Augusto disappeared in the water at around 1pm, before rescuers recovered his body seven hours later.
Augusto, originally from Portugal, moved to the borough to be nearer relatives in March with his parents, Paulina and Pedro and one-and-a-half year-old brother, Samuel.
In the wake of the tragedy his parents have now launched a campaign to get the quarry sealed off and led a two-hour protest at the site entrance.
Speaking through an interpreter, mum Paulina, who laid flowers at the scene, said: “I want the quarry to be closed off and filled in. Augusto was my eldest son. We are no longer ourselves since his death.
We don’t want to live anymore, we have lost the will to live.”
Waving banners and wearing printed T-shirts emblazoned with Augusto’s photograph and the words “Support Augusto save others”, the family were supported by members of the African charity, Cocoa.
West Midlands African community leader Mango Hoto said: “This quarry needs to be sealed off for good so other children don’t die in it. This is his family’s way of grieving. We have organised a petition which has so far more than 200 signatures which were are going to present to Ian Austin MP, Chris Kelly MP and Wienerberger, the owner of the quarry.
“We also have a meeting organised with Wienerberger in Manchester.”
Paulina and Pedro, who are also being supported by counsellors from Dudley Christian Fellowship, are preparing to say a final farewell to their son at his funeral at the Salop Street church at 10.30am on Friday.
Gornal ward councillor, Stuart Turner said: “Following the tragedy, 24-hour security was immediately put in place but that isn’t suitable for long term.
The perimeter of the quarry is four-and-a-half miles long, so there are partswhichare not as safe as it should be. I’m going to keep up the pressure that something needs to be done.
They are not going to mine it, so it’s going to be redundant and will still be accessible to children.
“Someone died there almost 30 years ago. It may take another 30 years but I can guarantee someone else will die there if something isn’t done.”