August 27, 2008

Man’s Body Retrieved From Mining Pit


By Jeff Hampton

The Virginian-Pilot


The body of a 21-year-old farm worker who drowned was found in a sand mining pit in Pasquotank County late Monday, said Sheriff Randy Cartwright.

The victim's name has not been released pending notification of relatives in Mexico, he said.

The man was last seen Sunday swimming in a pool of water formed in one of many sand mining pits just off Pitts Chapel Road in southern Pasquotank County. The approximately four-acre pond had not been used for mining in years. It was full of debris and its shoreline overgrown with brush and trees. Pumps were used to lower the 16 feet of water to about 8 feet when the body was found about 10 p.m. Monday, Cartwright said.

A companion of the victim swam across the pond and looked back to see the man go under, come back up and then go down again when he was halfway across, Cartwright said. The companion did not attempt a rescue but called 911.

Alcohol might have played a part in the drowning, Cartwright said. Authorities are awaiting autopsy results.

Two migrant camps there house farm workers who come here seasonally to harvest crops such as cabbage. For decades, locals and farm workers have gone swimming in the ponds on Pitts Chapel Road. Cartwright remembered only one other drowning in another pit there years ago.

Newer pits often form clean ponds from underground springs with sandy bottoms ideal for swimming.

But some pits are older and have become dumping sites for garbage and debris such as old refrigerators. Some of the ponds have shallow edges for a few feet and drop off suddenly to depths of 10 feet or more.

Jeff Hampton, (252) 338-0159, [email protected]

Originally published by BY JEFF HAMPTON.

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