LOCUST SUMMIT - A 24-year-old New York man drowned while swimming Thursday afternoon in an abandoned mine pit along Route 901 in Mount Carmel Township, according to Northumberland County Coroner James F. Kelley.

Benjamin Taus, of West Babylon, had jumped into the water from a 20-foot cliff at the mine pit known locally as "The Slopes," according to Patrolman Brian Carnuccio of Mount Carmel Township Police. Witnesses told police that he surfaced for about 20 seconds before submerging again.

They thought he went under to swim but he never resurfaced.

His body was recovered by dive team members about 30 feet below surface.

Kelley pronounced Taus dead at the scene at 5:05 p.m. The cause of death was accidental drowning.

Toxicology testing was performed at Geisinger-Shamokin Area Community Hospital, Coal Township. Kelley said there will not be an autopsy.

The incident occurred on the Mahanoy Mountain between Locust Summit and Locust Gap. It was reported at 2:50 p.m. Taus was located at 4:40 p.m. and recovered nine minutes later.

Second fatal

A 14-year-old Mount Carmel boy, Randy Zigarski, died in May 2004 at the same mine pit. A cross placed in his memory remains along the state highway at the entrance to the path that leads to "The Slopes."

The land is owned by Reading Anthracite. A gate at the entrance along the state highway was locked and no cars or trucks were at the scene, police said, but there were several all-terrain vehicles.

Township Patrolman Daniel Politza said Taus was with a group of five or six people, including his girlfriend and his brother, whom Kelley later identified as 23-year-old Peter Taus. Both of them are also from New York. Carnuccio said police were told they were at the mine pit with a Lavelle man.

Assisting at the scene were dive team members of Sunbury and Mahanoy City fire departments along with members of Locust Gap Fire Department, Mount Carmel Rescue Squad and Mount Carmel Police.

Kelley noted that Tony Rosini, Northumberland County district attorney, was notified of the drowning.