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Boy, 16, dies after jumping into Westford quarry

Westford Fire Department

A 16-year-old boy from Lawrence who was swimming with friends in a Westford quarry died Tuesday after sinking under the surface, authorities said.

The youth remained underwater for an hour and a half, a fire official said.

“The preliminary investigation suggests the male was swimming with a group of three friends at the time,” the Middlesex district attorney’s office said in a statement.

Lawrence police chief Roy Vasque confirmed the boy’s identity as William Lopez, 16, of Lawrence, late Tuesday night.

Around 11:45 a.m., the friends called the Westford fire and police departments reporting a possible drowning, Deputy Fire Chief Victor Neal said.


The friends, two young males and one female, told fire and police officials they saw their friend, Lopez, struggling in the water, Neal said. They tried to help him but were unsuccessful.

Neal said it appeared Lopez had jumped off one of the many ledges into the water.

The district attorney’s office said that a police officer who arrived at the scene tried to find the youth but was unsuccessful.

The Nashua, New Hampshire, dive team also responded to the scene, and went into the water. They found the youth’s body around 1:15 p.m. They attempted life-saving measures but determined the boy was dead.

The district attorney’s office said no foul play was suspected. The case was referred to the chief medical examiner’s office, which will determine the cause and manner of the death.

“Avoid the quarry,” Neal said. “It’s very dangerous, and who knows what debris is under the water?”

Merrill’s Quarry is private property and has multiple no-trespassing signs. People who park near the quarry receive tickets, and those who swim in the water are usually taken to court, Neal said.

Neal said he did not know if the three friends of the victim would be in legal trouble for swimming in the quarry.


Katie Camero can be reached at katie.camero@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @camerokt_. Danny McDonald can be reached at daniel.mcdonald@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Danny__McDonald.