A distraught Elizabeth Franklin recalls her last moments with her son Max Phillip, right, who drowned in a pond at a sand quarry on Sunday.

After years of leisure seekers sneaking into the old Windsor Park quarry to swim in its pond, the picturesque area turned nightmarish on Sunday when 31-year-old Max Phillip drowned.

At 6 am yesterday, Coast Guard divers finally retrieved Phillip’s body from the rain-filled pond formed after a contractor extracted red sand. Villagers said there are regular patrols by security personnel, but people risk going to the pond to lime.

Undertakers took his body to the San Fernando General Hospital’s mortuary for an autopsy. Couva police responded, and so far, officers do not suspect any foul play.

Police said that Phillip, of Beaucarro Village, and others were hiking through the area of the quarry. He entered the pond and began experiencing difficulties staying afloat. Others around the pond tried to save him, but he eventually drowned.

At their home yesterday, Phillip’s mother Elizabeth Franklin said she last spoke to him on Sunday morning as she prepared for church.

He complimented her on her style. When she returned home, her daughter told her Phillip went to Chaguanas. He went with a friend and was to return soon.

“I said, OK! I cooked and covered down his food for him. Then I got the news that he died,” Franklin said.

She said Phillip was a good swimmer, but his friends said he might have gotten cramps while in the water. Franklin was born and raised in Windsor and the sandpits existed during her childhood. However, she could not remember anyone drowning. There was a pond back then, but it was not as deep.

She said it was years since Phillip went into their old community and could not say why he went. Phillip had a wife who lives abroad.

Windsor Park residents said Junior Sammy Contractor’s Ltd (JSCL) operated the quarry but closed it approximately three years ago. A villager said the area is restricted, and the company’s security officers usually chase people away. However, she said, outsiders often visit the pond for a lime.

“It is over 15 years that I am living here, but I never took my children there because it is dangerous. It is just a big hole filled with water and slush. Yesterday, there were around 30 people down there. There were two carloads of people that came with the guy that drowned. One of the guys was trying to save him in the water, but he (Phillip) was pulling him down, so he had to let go.”

People can also enter the quarry from Basta Hall, Couva, hiking through a few hundred metres of bushes. Residents there said it was not the first time someone got in trouble while bathing in the pond.

Efforts to get a comment from JSCL were unsuccessful.