AN INVERKEITHING family who lost a beloved son and brother more than 40 years ago at Prestonhill Quarry is urging West Fifers to get behind a campaign to fill in the site.

Robert O’Neil was just 12 when he tragically fell to his death at the quarry in 1973, leaving his family devastated and the community in shock.

With Cameron Lancaster and John McKay, both 18, both losing their lives at the quarry in the last 10 months, Robert’s brother, Kevin (pic), is now backing the Press campaign for urgent action – saying “nothing has been done to make the place safer in the last 40 years”.

Kevin (46), of Roods Crescent, has signed the Facebook petition started following Mr McKay’s death at the quarry last month and urged West Fifers to do the same.

Aged just four when Robert, then a pupil at St John’s Primary, died on 18th May 1973, Kevin grew up hearing numerous stories from his parents and had “the fear of God put in me” about the quarry.

He told the Press, “Robert would have been about 55 now. Because I was so young, I have very few memories of him but the ones that I have are good ones. Allegedly, he was playing at Inverkeithing High School with his friends in the grounds. One of the janitors chased them off and he went down to the quarry with his friends to hang out and play.

“As they were standing at the stop of the quarry he lost his footing on one of the small rocks. He hit himself on the rocks and fell to his death.

“I’m not sure what happened after that but the ambulance arrived and he died en route. He didn’t die straight away but if he had survived, he would not have had much of a quality of life.

“It was a shock to the community and devastating for my family. My mum died in 2002 and she never forgot Robert to her dying day.

“There was a knock-on effect on everybody – even online, there are people who still remember what happened that day. Not a day goes by where we don’t think of him, or what might have been. Our family lost a son and a brother. He could have gone on to get married, have kids, been a father. Twelve years old as well – what a waste of life.

“My condolences go to Cameron and John’s families. The lads were 18, just youngsters with their whole lives ahead of them. So much has been robbed from our families and from theirs as well.” For dad-of-three Kevin, an area organiser for Unison, Mr McKay’s death last week “opened up old wounds”.

He asked, “Have there been any lessons learned in the last 42 years? When I heard about (Mr Lancaster’s death last August), I was just so sad – here’s a young guy wanting to do his bit for charity and he’s lost his life. It just brought up so many memories. I wasn’t able to sleep for a couple of days, I was so upset.

“My family has met with councillors through the years about the quarry. Something needs to be done to prevent any more deaths.” Kevin applauded local families for starting the petition for action and will also be meeting with Inverkeithing councillor Alice McGarry and Douglas Chapman MSP, as well as writing to other councillors, about the quarry.

He added, “I know the land is privately owned but there needs to be something done by Fife Council sitting down with the Scottish Government and using the Community Empowerment Act.

“Money needs to be found to fill it in – a fence doesn’t work. There was a temporary fence put up last week and it was knocked down. It’s shocking and totally disrespectful. The pollution from the quarry must be disgusting as well.

“There’s a lot that could be done with the area – turn it into something kids could use safely. You get a lot of guys down there with their BMXs – you could easily turn it into something for motorcross.” And with the school holidays starting tomorrow (Friday), Kevin fears, “When you see how easy it is to get into the quarry, I’m surprised there haven’t been more deaths there. Kids will be kids – they’ll be on holiday soon and will be hanging around the area. We have a really good coastal path but the quarry area is an eyesore. How many more kids have to die?”