Victim identified in Knoxville quarry drowning

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Knoxville Police Department has identified a man that died after jumping into Fort Dickerson Quarry as Dezayas Smith, 27, of Knoxville.

Jeremiah Mcleod, a Lieutenant on the Knoxville Rescue Squad’s Water Rescue Team said at around 7:41 p.m. Sunday Smith jumped 65 feet into the water and failed to resurface. Witnesses say he and his friends were only at the park for a short period of time before jumping from the rock ledge.

Six divers searched for Smith’s body in the water, according to Mcleod. He said at around 11:00 p.m., a diver was injured in the water and taken to University of Tennessee Medical Center for care. The diver is now in stable condition.

“It makes it more difficult for recoveries that’s for sure. We can only dive about a hundred feet deep. Our insurance wouldn’t let us do it. Obviously, at a hundred feet it’s still not safe.” said Mcleod.

At 11:50 p.m., Mcleod said Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency arrived with their remote operated vehicle. The equipment uses GPS and sonar, which allows TWRA to find objects in low visibility. He said Smith’s body was recovered after midnight on Monday.

Knoxville Parks and Recreation’s safety effort after Fort Dickerson Quarry drowning

Joe Walsh, Knoxville Parks and Recreation Director has one message to swimmers who want to jump at Fort Dickerson Quarry: Don’t do it.

“You might feel like you’re a good swimmer, but things can happen,” said Walsh. “This cliff is probably 35-40 feet high. You can hit the water in the wrong direction, dislocate your shoulder, there are snakes in the water… a lot of things that you don’t anticipate.”

People have been coming to the South Knoxville watering hole for decades. After multiple deaths at the quarry, Walsh said the city is planning on adding a new barrier and additional signage to discourage people from jumping from the spot where Smith died.

“This is swim at your own risk. We don’t have lifeguards here,” said Walsh. “There is not going to be someone here to rescue you if you’re in distress, so we encourage people that come here to wear a vest, especially if children come here, so you have less of an opportunity to drown.”

Walsh says he’s already met with Mayor Madeline Rogero about adding additional warning signs and barricades in the park as a result of this drowning.

“Our mission statement is to provide a fun and safe environment for people to recreate. Obviously, we don’t want people drowning or getting hurt.” said Walsh.

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