Quarry draws visitors, citations

The water-filled Toms Brook quarry that has been attracting many teens and young adults for mid-summer swims is now also drawing the attention of the Shenandoah County Sheriff’s Office.

A crackdown that began several weeks ago produced 15 citations for trespassing on July 28, all of them to two groups of people that deputies found at the site within a few a hours of each other.

The first group included 11 people, five of them juveniles ranging from 15 to 17 years old. The remaining six adults included four from Stephens City and one each from Winchester and Boyce.

Shenandoah County Maj. Scott Proctor said deputies found the alleged trespassers around 4 p.m. after receiving a report of trespassing and swimming at the quarry. Proctor said the Sheriff’s Office is also seeking petitions against two of the juveniles for possession of marijuana and vandalism pertaining to the removal of a no trespassing sign at the entrance to the quarry.

“This group was located and at some point deputies came in contact with a juvenile who was in possession of what was believed to be marijuana and also the no trespassing sign was observed to have been taken down,” Proctor said.

The trespassing citations were issued about a month after an 18-year-old Strasburg man fell 75 feet from a cliff into the quarry. Jason “Jay” Gomez suffered a spinal injury that required surgery at the University of Virginia Medical Center in Charlottesville. Gomez was with about eight other friends at the time he fell.

Gomez spent nine days in the hospital and was preparing for a stint of home care and outpatient therapy in Winchester.

Proctor said the Sheriff’s Office has stepped up patrols around the quarry off Creek Road near U.S. 11 in an effort to prevent others from injuring themselves. He estimated a total of about 20 trespassing citations have been issued at the quarry in the last month.

“It’s a former industrial area,” Proctor said of the quarry. “It is not designed to be a recreational type area. That’s not a place that has been cleared, or monitored or maintained. It’s basically abandoned.”

Sheriff’s deputies found another group at the quarry at about 8 p.m. July 28, Proctor said. The four members of the second group – one from Stephens City, one from West Virginia and two from Winchester – were also cited for trespassing.

Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or jbeck@nvdaily.com