Vulcan Materials Responds to Calls for Additional Career Safety Measures After UofSC Student Dies

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) – The University of South Carolina community is responding to the death of UofSC senior Michael Keen.

Keen’s body was found in the Columbia quarry of the Vulcan Materials Company on Monday and the Richland County coroner confirmed his identity on Tuesday.

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This is the second career student death in just over a year.

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“It should be a revelation for sure,” said UofSC junior Katie Buttarazzi. “Something has to happen. It shouldn’t have happened once, let alone twice. The career must be better secured for sure.

Buttarazzi lives in the Olympia-Granby area near Rosewood Drive, not far from Keen’s house on Florida Street.

She said that although she doesn’t know him personally, Keen’s death strikes near her home because she and her friends typically walk parallel to the quarry to get to Gamecock football games.

“On match days we will walk from here to the stadium and to local restaurants like J’s Corner,” she said. “And when kids drink, even mildly intoxicated, it’s a recipe for disaster if the career isn’t secure. There’s just a lot of room there for something bad to happen. “

Another worried student, he and his friends, will not be walking the career path any hour of the day or night as a result of this event.

Vulcan Materials owns and operates the quarry.

In a statement, they said on behalf of all of their employees, especially those at Columbia, that they extend their condolences to Keen’s family and friends.

“It is indeed a tragedy which is all the more so at this time of the year”, one can read in the press release.

The declaration then discusses the security measures taken to keep people out of the perimeter of the quarry.

“We make every effort to operate this site safely. We use fences, warning signs, berms and barbed wire to keep people out and warn them of dangers. In some areas we have two rows of fences with barbed wire. Buffer zones around the site are naturally forested and may become thick to further discourage trespassing. “

Some UofSC students think this is not enough.

“I know there is a fence around, but I really think he needs to have more protection, especially after this has happened twice,” said Lauryn Waters, UofSC junior. “It’s a little scary to know that this has happened and apparently people are still able to get in there, so they have to find a more difficult way for people to get in.”

WIS asked Jimmy Fleming, vice president of approvals and external affairs at Vulcan Materials, about the potential for additional security measures to secure the perimeter. Fleming said it was too early to say what action could be taken as the investigation into Keen’s death is ongoing, but security is an issue that will be addressed.

UofSC Acting President Harris Pastides responded to Keen’s death today, saying in a statement: “It is always painful to lose a member of our Caroline family, and we know that some you may want to ask for help during this difficult time. Please take advantage of the resources we have in place if you need grief counseling or support.

Pastides then detailed the ways in which students and faculty access mental health services. Students can call the 24-hour helpline, and staff can call the Employee Assistance Program.

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Susan W. Lloyd