A young man from West Babylon drowned on July Fourth after jumping about 20 feet from a ledge into an abandoned mine pit that is a popular swimming hole in the coal region of Pennsylvania, police and family said Monday.
Rescue divers found the body of Benjamin Taus, 24, about 30 feet below the surface of the water at the pit, in Mount Carmel Township, a township police spokesman said Monday.
Taus' mother, Jennifer Taus, of West Babylon, said Monday that her son had gone to Pennsylvania with his girlfriend, Megan Scuderi, 23, of West Islip, and his brother, Peter Taus, 23, also of West Babylon, to meet some friends.
"They would periodically take road trips there and get together," Jennifer Taus said. "They would go dirt-biking and then go for a swim."
She said Benjamin Taus and his friends had been to the swimming hole before, and that the coroner told her that Taus had probably hit the water hard. "It was just a freak accident. He got the wind knocked out of him," she said.
The accident was reported to police at 2:50 p.m. Thursday, the body was recovered shortly before 5 p.m., and the Northumberland County coroner declared Taus dead at 5:05 p.m. at the scene, the spokesman, Officer Daniel Politza, said.
"It happened in an area called, 'The Slopes,' an old, abandoned mining area that's filled with water," Politza said. "Those are pretty common around here. Every now and then, we get a call for something of this nature." He said a local teen drowned at the same swimming hole in 2004.
Taus was a 2007 graduate of West Babylon High School and later took classes in welding and metal fabrication, his mother said. He worked as a window installer, and before that was an electrician's helper with the Department of Public Works of the Town of Babylon, she said.
He loved working on a vintage hot rod he was restoring, she said. "He was very outgoing, funny, always had a smile on his face. He just liked being around people," she said.
He is also survived by his father, Randy Taus, of West Babylon.
The family will receive visitors Tuesday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at the Claude R. Boyd/Spencer Funeral Home, 448 W. Main St. in Babylon Village. Interment will be Wednesday at Pinelawn Memorial Park, Pinelawn.