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Monday, July 30, 2018

Josh Hawley Sues to Shut Down Offsets Swimming Hole After Deaths

Posted By on Mon, Jul 30, 2018 at 4:43 PM

click to enlarge The Offsets have long been a favorite swimming spot for daredevils. - INSTAGRAM/BRAINS.AND.BRAWN VIA PIKORE.COM
  • INSTAGRAM/brains.and.brawn via pikore.com
  • The Offsets have long been a favorite swimming spot for daredevils.

Attorney General Josh Hawley has sued the owners of the Offsets following two deaths at the popular swimming hole in July.

The privately owned former quarry, which used to be called Paradise Cove, sits about thirteen miles south of Farmington and draws big summer crowds of adventure-seeking cliff jumpers, scuba divers and people who just want to hang out and swim.



But Hawley says the five-acre lake has been a deadly "public nuisance" for nearly three decades and asked a judge to shut it down until something is done to mitigate the danger. The suit filed today describes the deaths of nine people, ages 16 to 27, since 1989.

Two people have died this month. Cole Duffell, nineteen, of Chesterfield jumped off one of the Offsets' embankments, resurfaced briefly and then sank back under water, according to the Missouri Highway Patrol.

Nine days later, on July 13, 21-year-old Safion Livingston struggled to swim and went under, the patrol said.

“The Offsets poses a serious danger to the public, as evidenced by the repeated tragedies that have occurred at this commercial location,” Hawley said in a news release. “As Attorney General, it is my duty to protect Missouri consumers — and this lawsuit is necessary to prevent future injuries and deaths.”

The suit names Gary and Rebecca Henson, the married couple who own and operate the site through their company, the Offsets Recreation, LLC. They did not respond to a message left on the Offsets business line.

The couple has owned the flooded quarry and surrounding land since the mid-1980s, according to the suit. They charge $10 per person and also run a campsite on the property. Customers are required to sign a waiver, warning them that they swim at their own risk, but Hawley says that's not nearly enough.

Among the dangers, the suit lists the cliffs, some rising 40 feet above the water, along with an absence of lifeguards or even life preservers to protect swimmers and divers. "No Flipping" signs posted on top of the bluffs do little to warn people about the potential danger in hitting the water from a great height, the suit claims.

Hawley says the Hensons clearly know the dangers but have taken almost no steps to keep people from getting killed or seriously injured.

We welcome tips and feedback. Email the author at doyle.murphy@riverfronttimes.com or follow on Twitter at @DoyleMurphy.
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