MADISON COUNTY, Mo. – Over the years, 5 On Your Side has told you about drownings at a popular swimming spot in Madison County.
Well, it's happened again. And now there are renewed calls for “The Offsets” near Fredericktown to make safety changes or be shut down.
On Wednesday, 19-year-old Cole Duffell drowned after jumping into the water at The Offsets. His death is the latest in a string of similar stories.
And for one mom, it's a painful reminder of the danger she said has existed for long enough.
The Offsets is known as a place where daredevils can get their thrills jumping off cliffs into a water filled-quarry. But for Denise Mattingly, it'll always be known as the place where her son died.
“It's just put a hole in our hearts. His siblings will never recover,” said Mattingly.
Michael Mattingly Jr. Was 20-years-old when he visited The Offsets to enjoy a day with a group of friends.
“He was a union carpenter. He was enrolled full time at Meramec [Community College]. He was an all-around good kid.”
Michael never came home.
“He slipped and fell 65-feet. He cracked his head open and slid in and drowned,” said his mother.
That was Memorial Day weekend, 2007. Since then, at least three others have died at The Offsets.
The first, just one day after Mattingly. A young man drowned in the waters in 2015. And the same thing happened on Wednesday.
The news makes Denise Mattingly’s heart ache.
“It makes me want to scream, cry. I was so upset last night when I heard about that young man I thought I was going to be sick,” she said.
She's been fighting since her son's death to get The Offsets shut down over what she and other families claim are unsafe conditions.
“I've gone to our lawmakers and have gotten no help from them. I've written letters to the governor,” she said.
A big concern is the lack of lifeguards. The manager of The Offsets didn't return our calls for an interview, but we're told there are rules against doing flips off the high cliffs.
Jumping into the water is optional, with steps to get swimmers in safely. Life jackets and flotation devices are available for rent and there are numerous signs warning visitors to swim at their own risk.
Still, Mattingly says that's not enough.
“I just want either them to have lifeguards, make it safer or be shut down.”
Mattingly and other families have been involved in lawsuits against The Offsets. She said she’s been in contact with those other families and they won't give up until changes are made.