The man seriously injured after falling into a quarry over the weekend was visiting Gloucester from his home in Boston.
Authorities had not released the man's name or his condition as of Monday evening.
Gloucester police are investigating the incident and looking toward increasing patrols in an area that has drawn visitors for years to swimming holes that authorities see as safety hazards and are supposed to be off limits.
"I think the most important thing right now is to focus on this individual and how he's doing," said City Councilor Val Gilman, whose Ward 4 is home to Vernon's Pit, where the man fell Saturday morning, as well as Nelson's Pit and the nearby Klondike Reservoir. "But I also think the city needs to pause to work together to make the right decisions in terms of safety in the quarries."
Media representatives at Tufts Medical Center, where the man was taken by Boston Med-Flight after being carried up the quarry rocks by Gloucester police and firefighters, did not return phone calls Monday seeking updates regarding the man's condition.
The city does not allow swimming in the quarries, police Chief Edward Conley noted, and Gilman said especially not in Klondike Reservoir, part of the city's public water supply.
However, neighborhood residents and visitors alike have long used Vernon's and Nelson's quarries as swimming holes. And neighbors have focused more often on trash and drinking parties around the quarries, which are city-owned and publicly accessible areas, than swimming dangers.
Conley, who noted that the quarries pose a number of safety hazards, had said Sunday that police will be patrolling more around the quarries to enforce city parking and other regulations. Conley said he also wants to meet with and visit the quarries with Gilman, who has worked with neighbors on safety and quality-of-life issues related to the quarries every summer.
"We do a good job with neighborhood watch groups," said Gilman, who lives on nearby Revere Street. "We're trying to be vigilant, and our concerns are that people who come up here aren't drinking and putting themselves in harm's way. We need people to be respectful of the quarries, not take advantage of them."
She said that while the city has removed rope swings hung by visitors to take divers from the roughly 30-foot cliffs out over the water, that effort has not always proven successful. According to preliminary reports, the man injured in Saturday's incident was trying to use a rope swing to dive into the water when the rope snapped, sending him crashing down onto the rocks below.
"As soon as they're taken down, it seems they're replaced," Gilman said.
"One of my recommendations would first be to address the swings," Gilman said. "But we need to think this through in terms of what we can and should do. People jump off Magnolia Pier, and that's dangerous. They jump off the footbridge at Annisquam. People do dangerous things, and we can't always have (police patrols) out there to stop them."
Lt. Joseph Fitzgerald, the Police Department's commander of operations, said Monday that any added patrols were not yet on the scene Monday, but likely will be on weekends, when swimmers and parties — mostly involving youths and young adults — have tended to be more prevalent.Virtually annual crackdowns by police have, at their height, reeled in nine youths on trespassing charges at Vernon's Pit in 2017 and another 18 people swimming in nearby Klondike Reservoir the year before.
"Usually, we reserve increased patrols for weekends or for a hot day," Fitzgerald said Monday when temperatures hovered in the 70s rather than Saturday's 80s. "It's more the weekend that we send the ATVs up there to control the quarries, unless we get a tip or a call that there's a party up there or that people might be traveling up there."
Fitzgerald said preliminary reports indicate that the injured man was with two other people — also from Boston — who had called 911 and spoke, to an extent, to responders at the scene Saturday morning. Both police and fire officials said they were hampered by a "language barrier" in communicating with the witnesses, and crews focused on the rescue effort aimed at carrying the man up and out of the quarry to a nearby field that served as a landing zone for the Med-Flight helicopter.
The victim was described by police as being "in and out of consciousness" when he was carried first up the quarry rocks by emergency personnel, and then taken onto the helicopter for transport to Boston.
Ray Lamont can be reached at 978-675-2705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.