Missouri’s attorney general says a popular business and recreational lake in southeast Missouri that’s been the site of several deaths remains closed on this Fourth of July weekend.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (right) speaks at the St. Louis Clean Sweep event on June 14, 2019 (file photo courtesy of AG’s office)

Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) says “The Offsets” near Fredericktown is a lead mine turned swimming hole and that at least nine people have died there from drowning or falling off bluffs, since the early 1980’s.

Schmitt says “countless” others have been injured. The quarry is surrounded by 40-foot bluffs, where people have jumped into a lake.

Schmitt says Madison County Circuit Judge Wendy Horn has ordered the “Offsets” to be closed until several safety measures are implemented.

Some of those safety measures are a detailed emergency response plan and frequent staff training, stationing trained lifeguards in specific areas where jumping would be allowed and placing an additional lifeguard in a boat in the water to be able to rescue swimmers. Judge Horn has also ordered the Offsets to require all patrons jumping off bluffs to wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life vests.

“As Attorney General, my duty is to protect all six million Missourians, and ensuring that people can safely enjoy summer festivities falls under that duty,” Schmitt says.

Online court records indicate Farmington attorney Clinton Roberts, who represents Offsets Recreation LLC, is appealing Judge Horn’s ruling. Counselor Roberts’ appeal has been filed with the Missouri Court of Appeals Eastern District.

Former Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) filed the lawsuit against the Offsets in Madison County Circuit Court in Fredericktown in July 2018.

“And what the common fact pattern here is that they jump from this very high point, they injure themselves upon entry into the water and then they are not able to swim because there’s no dock,” Hawley told Missourinet in a July 2018 interview.

Hawley said all nine people who have died at the quarry/lake were healthy males between the ages of 16 and 21.

The “St. Louis Post-Dispatch” has reported that 19-year-old Cole Duffell of Chesterfield died at the Offsets on the Fourth of July 2018, after jumping off a cliff into the lake.

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