Officials: Miner dead, 1 rescued in Utah cave-in
SALT LAKE CITY — A miner died Friday and another was injured after they became trapped in a cave-in at a central Utah coal mine, authorities said.
The cave-in was reported earlier in the day at a mine in Bear Canyon, about 10 miles west of the small mining town of Huntington, the Emery County sheriff’s office said. Rescuers freed one man but were unable to save the other miner, officials said.
A rescue team recovered the body of the second miner. Huntington Mayor Hilary Gordon identified him as 28-year-old Elam Jones, whose mother is a Huntington city councilwoman.
The injured miner, who has not been identified, was treated and released from Castleview Hospital in Price.
The mine is part of the Castle Valley Mining Complex. Preliminary information showed that a roof fall occurred on a pillaring section of the mine after a large rock fell, according to federal mine safety officials. The Mine Safety and Health Administration was investigating, said spokesman Jesse Lawder.
Messages left with the mine’s operator, Rhino Resource Partners, were not immediately returned. The Kentucky-based company bought the mining complex, which has 26.1 million tons of coal reserves, in August 2010, according to its website. Federal records show one injury was reported at the mine last year.
Such tragedies are familiar to those who live in the area, which depends largely on mining for its economy. The mine is in the same county where the Crandall Canyon Mine collapsed in 2007, killing nine people. The operator of that mine, Genwal Resources Inc., an affiliate of Ohio-based Murray Energy Corp., reached a $949,351 settlement in 2012 with the Mine Safety and Health Administration over safety violations.
Gordon, who was mayor during the Crandall Canyon collapse, told KSL-TV and the Deseret News that the latest mine collapse brought back memories of that disaster.
“Whenever there’s a cave-in at any of the mines, you hold your breath,” she said. “Coal is very powerful, and Mother Nature is very powerful.”
Jones helped in the rescue of miners at Crandall Canyon and later spoke at a vigil for those who died and were injured there, according to the Tribune.
“Everybody who was up there put in 100 percent,” said Jones, 23 at the time. “We did everything we possibly could. But the mountain won’t let us do nothing else.”