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Mine Disasters in the United States
 
Successful Rescues Since 1970 Rescuer Deaths Since 1970
 
U. S. Mine Disasters Since 1970
Includes mine disasters which resulted in 5 or more fatalities

Date Company Mine Location Deaths
04/05/2010 Massey Energy Company Upper Big Branch Mine Explosion Montcoal, WV 29
At approximately 3:02 p.m. on Easter Monday, April 5, 2010, a powerful explosion tore through the Upper Big Branch mine, owned by Massey Energy and operated by its subsidiary, Performance Coal Company, at the convergence of Boone and Raleigh counties in southern West Virginia.  Twenty-nine miners died and one was seriously injured as the enormously powerful blast rocketed through two and one-half miles of underground workings nearly 1,000 feet beneath the surface of the rugged mountains along the Coal River.  The disaster has had grave consequences for a mining company, for a community and, most importantly, for the family members who lost men dear to them.
08/06/2007 Genwal and Murray Energy Corp. Crandall Canyon Mine Cave-in Huntington, UT 9
On August 6, 2007, at 2:48 a.m., a catastrophic coal outburst accident occurred during pillar recovery in the South Barrier section, while the section crew was mining the barrier near crosscut 139.  The outburst initiated near the section pillar line (the general area where the miners were working) and propagated toward the mine portal.  On August 16, 2007, at 6:38 p.m., a coal outburst occurred from the pillar between the No. 1 and No. 2 entries, adjacent to rescue workers as they were completing the installation of ground support behind the continuous mining machine.  Coal ejected from the pillar dislodged standing roof supports, steel cables, chain-link fence, and a steel roof support channel, which struck the rescue workers and filled the entry with approximately four feet of debris.  Ventilation controls were damaged and heavy dust filled the clean-up area, reducing visibility and impairing breathing. Also, air from inby the clean-up area containing approximately 16% oxygen migrated over the injured rescue workers.  Nearby rescue workers immediately started digging out the injured miners and repairing ventilation controls.  Two mine employees, Dale Black and Brandon Kimber, and one MSHA inspector, Gary Jensen, received fatal injuries.  Six additional rescue workers, including an MSHA inspector, were also injured.
05/20/2006 Kentucky Darby LLC Darby Mine No. 1 Explosion Holmes Mill, KY 5
A methane explosion occurred behind the seals at A Left, which was caused by the cutting of a metal roof strap that passed through the No. 3 Seal.  The forces from the explosion resulted in fatal injuries to the two miners and complete destruction of the seals.  Forces from the explosion also damaged conveyor belt structure, roof supports, and ventilation controls.  The four miners who were working in the B Left Section attempted to evacuate and encountered thick smoke approximately four crosscuts outby the section power center.  At this point they donned their CSE SR-100 self contained self rescue (SCSR) devices and attempted to continue their evacuation.  During the evacuation, at least two of the miners intermittently removed their SCSR mouthpieces to communicate.  The miners eventually became separated from each other.  One miner survived and three died due to carbon monoxide poisoning with smoke and soot inhalation.
01/02/2006 International Mines Corporation Sago Mine Explosion Tallmansville, WV 12
At 6:26 a.m., a methane ignition in a recently sealed area of the mine triggered an explosion that blew out the seals and propelled smoke, dust, debris and lethal carbon monoxide into the working sections of the mine.  One miner was killed by the blast.  Sixteen escaped.  Twelve were unable to escape and retreated to await rescue behind a curtain at the face of the Two Left section.  Approximately 41 hours later, mine rescuers entered the mine and found the trapped miners.  As a result of this extended delay, all but one, Randal McCloy Jr., had succumbed from carbon monoxide asphyxiation.
09/23/2001 Jim Walter Resources JWR No. 5 Mine Explosions Brookwood, AL 13
On September 23, 2001, two separate explosions occurred at approximately 5:20 p.m. and 6:15 p.m. in 4 Section of the Jim Walter Resources, Inc., (JWR) No. 5 Mine, resulting in fatal injuries to thirteen miners.  At the time of the explosions, thirty-two miners were underground during a non-producing Sunday afternoon shift.  Prior to the first explosion, three miners were building cribs to address deteriorating roof and rib conditions in the No. 2 Entry of 4 Section near the scoop battery charging station.  A fourth miner was nearby delivering additional materials.  A roof fall occurred at the intersection near the scoop battery charging station, releasing methane and damaging a scoop battery.  A methane explosion occurred within minutes after the roof fall when an explosive methane-air mixture was ignited by arcing of the damaged battery.  All four miners were injured.  Three of the miners, including the section foreman, exited 4 Section.  Due to the severity of his injuries, the fourth miner could not be moved from the section.  The explosion damaged critical ventilation controls.
12/07/1992 Southmountain Coal Company Southmountain No. 3 Mine Explosion Norton, VA 8
At approximately 6:15 a.m., an explosion occurred on the 1 Left section of Southmountain Coal Co. Inc.'s No. 3 Mine at Norton, Virginia.  Eight miners were killed, and another miner working in an outby area was injured.  MSHA investigators concluded that an open flame from a cigarette lighter found on the mine floor was the ignition source.  Persons were smoking in the mine, and the operator's smoking search program was not effective.  One cigarette pack containing nine unsmoked cigarettes was found on a victim located at the point of origin, and ten smoked cigarettes were found in his pockets.
09/13/1989 Pyro Mining Company William Station Mine Explosion Sullivan, KY 10
At about 9:13 a.m., an explosion occurred on Longwall Panel "O" between the 4th and 5th West entries off the first Main North entry, of Pyro Mining Company's Pyro No. 9 Slope, William Station Mine, located at Sullivan, Kentucky.  Fourteen miners were present in the longwall recovery area at the time of the explosion.  Ten died as a result of the explosion; four escaped despite being exposed to high concentrations of carbon monoxide and smoke.  MSHA investigators concluded that the primary cause of the explosion was the failure of management to maintain a sufficient volume and velocity of air in the proper direction in the 4th West entries and longwall face to dilute, render harmless, and carry away methane accumulations in that area.
02/06/1986 Consolidation Coal Company Loveridge No. 22 Bin Collapse Fairview, WV 5
On February 5, 1986, the shift foreman at the Loveridge No. 22 coal mine discovered damage in the rails of a tripper belt structure above the raw coal storage bin.  The next day at approximately 11:00 a.m., seven company and contractor officials walked to the top of a raw coal pile located below the rails to inspect the damage.  About five minutes later, a section of the coal pile that was 4 to 6 feet in diameter suddenly collapsed.  Five of the individuals were rapidly swallowed by the hole and suffocated.  The two others escaped injury.  MSHA investigators attributed the development of the crater to the normal operation of a feeder beneath the coal pile that was designed to move coal from the pile to a processing plant, and attributed the accident to management's failure to prevent the development of such craters and to detect their existence.
12/19/1984 Emery Mining Corporation Wilberg Mine Fire Orangeville, UT 27
On the evening of December 19, 1984, twenty-eight people -- over twice the usual crew number -- were present in the Fifth Right longwall section as the crew neared completion of a new twenty-four-hour world-production record.  At about 9 p.m., fire broke out in First North near the entrance to the Fifth Right section.  First North, the main haulageway into the Wilberg Mine, consisted of a series of six parallel tunnels running several miles into the mountain.  Just over a mile along First North were the two right-hand tunnels leading to the Fifth Right longwall section.  Within minutes, smoke and lethal gases traveled the 2,400 feet down Fifth Right to the working face of the longwall.  One miner escaped, but eighteen miners and nine company officials were trapped and killed.
06/21/1983 Clinchfield Coal Company McClure No. 1 Mine Explosion McClure, VA 7
At approximately 10:15 p.m., an explosion occurred in the 2 Left entries of McClure No. 1 Mine of Clinchfield Coal Co., located at McClure, Virginia.  Ten miners were present in the 2 Left entries at the time of the explosion, eight in the face area and two in the track entry.  Seven died as a result of the explosion.  Three miners at the faces survived the explosion and were rescued.  MSHA investigators concluded that the primary cause of the explosion was the failure of mine management to maintain sufficient volume and velocity of air in the No. 2 and No. 3 entries of 2 Left to dilute, render harmless, and carry away the methane gas being liberated in those entries.
01/20/1982 RFH Coal Company RFH No. 1 Mine Explosion Craynor, KY 7
On January 20, 1982, at approximately 9:40 a.m., a coal dust explosion occurred in the 001 section of RFH Coal Co.'s No. 1 Mine located at Mink Branch near Craynor, Floyd County, Kentucky.  All seven miners working underground at the time of the explosion were killed.  MSHA investigators concluded that coal dust ignited in the No. 5 room when explosives were detonated in the developing crosscut between the Nos. 5 and 6 rooms.  The crosscut was being mined from the No. 6 room toward the No. 5 room.  Prior to blasting, the coal remaining in the crosscut between the two rooms was approximately 5 feet thick.  When the crosscut was blasted, it shot through into the No. 5 room.  The flames from the explosion were not contained within the boreholes due to either a blown-out or blown-through shot, excessive explosives used per hole, or an overburdened or underburdened shot.  The flames that resulted ignited a cloud of coal dust in the No. 5 room.  The flames then propagated into the No. 6 room as well as out of the No. 5 room into other areas of the mine.
12/08/1981 Grundy Mining Company Grundy No. 21 Mine Explosion Whitewell, TN 13
At approximately 12:00 midnight, an explosion occurred in 003 section of the No. 21 Mine of Grundy Mining Co., Inc., located at Whitewell, Tennessee.  There were 56 men in the mine when the explosion occurred; 13 died, 43 survived.  Six remained underground to participate in the recovery operations, and the remainder escaped to the surface.  MSHA investigators concluded that methane accumulations in the Nos. 2 and 3 Left gob off 5 Right flowed through a 4-ft. by 7-ft. hole and test boreholes in No. 2 and No. 3 entries of 003 section.  Because intake air to the section was short-circuited from the faces at a crosscut between No. 2 and No. 3 entries (3 crosscuts outby the faces), methane migrated into the 003 section from the faces of No. 2 and No. 3 entries.  It was concluded that a miner using a cigarette lighter ignited the methane-air mixture, causing the explosion.
12/07/1981 Adkins Coal Company Adkins No. 11 Mine Explosion Kite, KY 8
At approximately 2:50 p.m., a coal dust explosion occurred on the south main working section at the No. 11 Mine, Adkins Coal Co., located at Kite, Knott County, Kentucky.  The accident resulted in the death of all eight miners who were underground at the time.  The accident occurred while the face and right crosscut were being blasted simultaneously from the solid in the No. 1 entry of the active working section.  MSHA investigators concluded that a coal dust explosion occurred when a blown-out shot from the right corner blasthole of the No. 1 entry face on the south main section ignited coal dust that had been put into suspension by the blasts of this face and the face of the right crosscut.
04/15/1981 Mid-Continent Resources, Inc. Dutch Creek No. 1 Explosion Redstone, CO 15
At approximately 4:08 p.m., a methane and coal dust explosion occurred in the 102 longwall development section of Dutch Creek No. 1 Mine located near Redstone, Colorado.  Fifteen miners died as a result.  Nine of the victims were working in the 102 section and six were working in the Slope section.  Seven miners working in other areas of the mine at the time of the explosion survived.  Three were injured and were rescued; the other four were not injured and escaped unassisted to the surface.  MSHA investigators concluded that an outburst occurred at the face of the No. 1 entry on the 102 section that released large amounts of methane and coal dust.  This was caused by extensive stresses exerted on the coalbed and face by the massive overburden and other geological conditions in the mine.  The outburst created an explosive atmosphere.
11/07/1980 Westmoreland Coal Company Ferrell No. 17 Explosion Uneeda, WV 5
The explosion occurred in 1 east 2 south and resulted in the deaths of five miners.  Rescue and recovery efforts commenced on November 7, 1980, and the bodies of the five miners were recovered on November 8, 1980.  On November 11, 1980, the decision was made to build seals outby the affected area.  The seals were completed on November 13, 1980.  On November 12, 1980, the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) began an investigation of the explosion.  The sealing of the area of the mine affected by the explosion prevented the MSHA investigators from completing the underground portion of the investigation.
06/08/1979 Cargill, Incorporated Belle Isle Salt Mine Explosion Franklin, LA 5
Shortly before 11:00 p.m. on June 8, 1979, a scheduled blast was initiated in the Belle Isle Mine, a salt mine.  About ten minutes later a gas explosion occurred, sending intensely hot hurricane-like winds throughout the mine.  These gales blew out ventilation controls, including stoppings and doors, and upended trucks and other heavy machinery.  Standing at the surface when the explosion occurred, a general mine foreman compared the explosion's sound to that of a dozen freight trains.  MSHA investigators determined that the scheduled, initial blast had triggered a massive "outburst" of about 15,750 tons of broken salt and flammable gases.  Included in these gases were methane and minute quantities of other hydrocarbons, which were ignited by electric arcs, sparks, or burning electric cable insulation.
04/04/1978 Clinchfield Coal Company Moss No. 3 Portal A Inundation Duty, VA 5
In March 1978, water inundated some abandoned sections in the Moss No. 3 Portal A Mine, soon after work began on the creation of a 265 foot single-entry drainway in the coal seam that connected an abandoned area of the mine to the surface.  The drainway was designed to prevent additional flooding by funneling rising waters from the worked-out area into the nearby Fryingpan Creek.  At about 12:30 p.m. on April 4, four men were working to advance the drainway into an abandoned, mined-out area on the left side of the drainway face.  Although the air in the abandoned area was not first tested or analyzed for carbon dioxide after a test borehole penetrated the area.  The continuous mining machine was used to intentionally breach the area with a hole that measured 14 by 20 inches.  Immediately after creation of the hole, the drainway was inundated by blackdamp (oxygen-deficient air).
03/01/1977 Kocher Coal Company Porter Tunnel Mine Inundation Tower City, PA 9
On Tuesday, March 1, 1977, at approximately 11:50 a.m., an inrush of water occurred in the West Skidmore South Dip conveyor gangway section of the Porter Tunnel Mine, Kocher Coal Company, causing the death of nine miners, injuries to three and entrapment of one who was eventually rescued.  Six miners in the effected section escaped safely via the return air emergency escapeway leading to the surface.  The miners working in other sections of the mine, 65 in all, traveled both the intake and return air escapeways leading to the surface.
03/11/1976 Scotia Coal Company Scotia Mine Explosions Oven Fork, KY 26
Two gas and coal dust explosions, the first at approximately 11:45 a.m., March 9, 1976, and the second at approximately 11:30 p.m., March 11, 1976, occurred in the 2 Southeast Main area of the Scotia Mine, Scotia Coal Company, Ovenfork, Letcher County, Kentucky.  All 15 men working in the 2 Southeast Main area at the time of the first explosion died as a result of the explosion.  Ninety-one men in other parts of the mine at that time reached the surface without mishap.  At the time of the second explosion, 13 men were underground near the entrance of 2 Southeast Main; 11 died as the result of the explosion and 2 repairmen working a short distance outby escaped without injury.
12/16/1972 Itmann Coal Company Itmann No. 3 Mine Explosion Itmann, WV 5
A mine explosion occurred about 3:45 p.m., along the combined haulage track and belt entry in the Cabin Creek 4 panel section.  The Cabin Creek 4 panel crew was in a portal bus enroute to the surface when the explosion occurred; five of the 8-man crew were killed and the other three men were burned severely and required hospitalization.  None of the other shift employees were affected by the occurrence.  The explosion originated about 1,000 feet outby the section working faces and was confined to the Cabin Creek 4 panel section.  An explosive methane-air mixture accumulated in No. 1 entry used for conveyor belt and track haulage and was ignited by the portal bus transporting the section crew to the surface.
07/22/1972 Consolidation Coal Company Blacksville No. 1 Mine Fire Blacksville, WV 9
A mine fire occurred about 7:30 p.m., along the No. 3 north mains track haulageway between the junctions of A-1 and A-2 sections.  At the time of the fire, 43 men were in the mine.  An acting shift foreman and four workmen were transporting a 1-JCM ripper-type continuous-mining machine, which was involved in the fire.  Two foremen and 27 other employees were doing miscellaneous work in other parts of the mine outby the origin of the fire.  A foreman and four workmen in the A-3 section were engaged in miscellaneous work inby the fire, and these nine employees remain entombed in the mine.  Except for the foreman and eight employees working inby the origin of the fire, all other workmen in the mine at the time of the occurrence escaped without incident via the service shaft portal.
05/02/1972 Sunshine Mining Company Sunshine Mine Fire Kellogg, ID 91
A fire of undetermined origin was detected by Sunshine employees at approximately 11:35 a.m. on May 2, 1972.  At that time, smoke and gas was coming from the 910 raise on the 3700 level.  This fire precipitated the death of 91 underground employees by smoke inhalation and/or carbon monoxide poisoning.  A subsequent shutdown of production of 7 months followed.  Evacuation efforts at the time of the onset resulted in 81 men being evacuated the first day and 2 men being rescued 7 days later from the 4800 level.
02/26/1972 Buffalo Mining Company Buffalo Creek Dam Failure Saunders, WV 125
A coal refuse retaining dam near the mouth of Middle Fork, Saunders, Logan County, West Virginia, failed about 8 a.m., Saturday, February 26, 1972.  The dam failure released water, refuse, and silt into the valley traversed by Buffalo Creek and created havoc in the narrow valley.  The flooding resulted in the confirmed deaths of 125 persons, total destruction of 502 permanent home structures and 44 mobile homes, major damage to 268 additional permanent home structures and 42 mobile homes, and minor damage to 270 additional homes along Buffalo Creek from Saunders to Man, West Virginia, a distance of about 17 miles.  It was estimated that about 4,000 persons were left homeless.
04/12/1971 Ozark-Mahoning Company Barnett Complex Mine Asphyxiations Rosiclare, IL 7
Seven men died as a result of exposure to Hydrogen Sulfide gas in advance workings on the 800-foot level of the Barnett Complex Mine, Ozark-Mahoning Company, Pope County, Illinois.  Two brothers, William and Philip Long, entered an area of the mine and were subsequently overcome by Hydrogen Sulfide gas.  An additional 5 employees made several attempts to reach the Long brothers and bring them to fresh air.  After finally reaching the downed brothers and loading them onto a locomotive to bring them out, they too were overcome and killed by the toxic gas.
12/30/1970 Finley Coal Company Nos. 15 and 16 Mine Explosion Hyden, KY 38
A coal dust explosion occurred in the interconnected Nos. 15 and 16 mines of the Finley Coal Company at about 12:20 p.m.  Thirty-eight of the 39 men who were underground at the time were killed.  Observations made during the investigation of the disaster indicate that 14 men who were employed in No. 16 mine were apparently killed instantly by the explosion, and 3 others who may have moved a short distance after the explosion possibly died from asphyxiation or carbon monoxide poisoning.  Nineteen men, who were employed in No. 15 mine, were apparently killed instantly by the explosion, and 2 others who may have moved a short distance after the explosion presumably died from asphyxiation or carbon monoxide poisoning.  The lone survivor was near the portal in the belt entry of No. 15 mine when the explosion occurred.  He was injured slightly by the explosion force and the debris coming out of the mine.

Successful Mine Rescues Since 1970

Since 1970, there have been 29 successful mine rescues in which 147 miners and others were saved.  To read about all that have been identified, visit Mine Rescue Success Stories, Successful Mine Rescue Summary, or download the chronological list in MS Word formatMS Word Icon

Date Company Mine Location Saved
Jun 2017 Vulcan Materials Company La Farge Gravel Mine Rescue Placitas, NM 4
Two workers became trapped while working on equipment at the La Farge gravel mine.  Attempting their rescue, two others also became engulfed in the material.  Two of the workers were buried up to their necks, a third to his chest and the fourth to his waist when emergency personnel arrived.  The last man was freed from his confines 6 hours after the incident occurred.
Aug 2016 Keystone No. 1 Abandoned Mine Rescue Keystone, WV 3
Three men were found and rescued in the abandoned Keystone No. 1 mine following a search lasting more than 12 hours.  The three men found, Justin Bolen, Brandon Collins and Steve Cordle, along with Dustin Bolen and Jimmie were arrested following an investigation into the copper thefts at the mine.  A fourth man lost in the mine, Clay Epperly, was never found.
Jul 2016 Abandoned Iron Mine Rescue Iron Ridge, WI 3
Three teenage boys got lost in a labyrinthine abandoned iron mine in southeastern Wisconsin for hours, spending the night huddled together against the cold before rescuers found them alive and safe.  The three were Tate Rose and Zachary Heron, both 16, and 15-year-old Samuel Lein.
Jan 2016 Cargill Incorporated Cargill Salt Elevator Incident Lansing, NY 17
Rescue crews freed 17 miners in upstate New York after they spent a terrifying 10 hours down in one of the world's deepest salt mines.  The first four of the Cargill Salt miners emerged to the surface in a basket around 7 a.m.  The rest were rescued from the salt mine over the next two hours.
Sep 2015 Abandoned Mine Rescue Adelanto, CA 1
After a man became trapped in an abandoned mine near Adelanto, California, the call was for a vertical shaft mine rescue.  The subject was 40 feet down a shaft with a level adit that went on for 20 feet.  He had hand over handed down a poly rope to see inside the mine.  When his friends tied the rope to a quad and tried to pull him out, the rope broke.  He fell a distance back down the shaft, landing on a pile of discarded mattresses at the bottom of the mine.  Since vehicles could not access the shaft, equipment was hiked in and pickets were set up for anchors.  An EMT from the San Bernardino Sheriff’s Cave & Technical Rescue Team was lowered to bring the man to the surface.  The subject was unhurt, and after a nearly 8 hour entrapment, he was raised in a harness and declined further treatment.
Jan 2010 Doe Run Company Viburnum No. 29 Mine Rescue Viburnum, MO 3
Three Missouri miners were rescued from a DPOS after being trapped more than 5 hours in the No. 29 mine of the Doe Run Company near Viburnum on January 21, 2010.  Their escape was cut off when a 30-ton haul truck caught fire.  The trapped miners were: Robert McClain, truck driver; Michael Byers, loader operator; and Timothy Yount, scaler operator.
Jan 2006 International Coal Group, Inc. Sago Mine Explosion Tallmansville, WV 1
One miner, Randal McCloy Jr., is found alive after 40 hours following the Sago Mine Explosion in West Virginia.  Twelve miners died in the accident.  This disaster prompted the creation of the Mine Improvement and New Emergency Response Act of 2006 (MINER Act). External Link
May 2006 Kentucky Darby, LLC Darby No. 1 Mine Explosion Holmes Mill, KY 1
Paul Ledford, roof bolter, was rescued after more than 2 hours following the explosion.  Ledford had traveled approximately 1,050 feet in the No. 5 Entry where he collapsed and lost consciousness.  He regained consciousness at approximately 3:05 a.m. and crawled into the No. 6 Entry, where he was discovered by rescuers.  He was then taken out of the mine on a battery-powered personnel carrier and transported to Lonesome Pine Hospital in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, where he was treated.
Jan 2003 McElroy Mining Company McElroy Shaft Explosion Cameron, WV 2
Rescuers clambered into an oversized bucket attached to a crane and were lowered to two injured miners below.  They brought out Benjamin Bair and Richard Brumley.  They were transported to Pittsburgh's Mercy Hospital.  Bair was listed in critical condition with second-degree burns and multiple fractures.  Brumley was in serious condition with second-degree burns, puncture wounds and a concussion.  The five rescuers were honored with Carnegie Medals for heroism External Link for saving injured workers after the explosion in a mine shaft.  They included Sheriff’s deputies, Brent Wharry and Steven Cook; Donald Kline, paramedic; and miners Aaron Meyer and Jack Cain.
Jul 2002 Black Wolf Coal Company Quecreek Mine Inundation Friedens, PA 9
Following an inundation of water from an adjacent abandoned mine, nine miners were rescued after being trapped more than 3 days in the Quecreek Mine in Friedens, Pennsylvania.
May 2002 Abandoned Mine Rescue Kern County, CA 1
While riding his dirt bike in a remote part of Kern County, California, a 10-year-old boy fell 200 feet into an abandoned mine shaft.  In a rescue which lasted several hours and was executed by the Indian Wells Valley Mine Rescue Team and the Kern County Fire Department, the boy and his rescuer, Sean Halpin, were raised to the surface.  The victim was transported to a nearby hospital, where he was kept 24 hours for observation and then released.
Jul 2000 Plateau Mining Corporation Willow Creek Mine Explosions & Fire Helper, UT 4
More than 10 hours following the explosions in the Willow Creek Mine, four injured miners were laboriously brought to the surface by mine rescue teams.  The rescued men included William Burton, Tyson Hales, Cory Nielsen and Shane Stansfield.  Two other miners were found dead by rescue personnel.
Aug 1991 Consolidation Coal Company McElroy Mine Roof Fall Moundsville, WV 70
70 miners were rescued after more than seven hours following a roof fall at the Consolidation Coal McElroy Mine near Moundsville, West Virginia.  The fall occurred when a mine car struck a roof support causing the collapse.  Rescuers lowed food and extra mine lamps to the trapped miners during their ordeal.
Sep 1989 Abandoned Hidden Treasure Mine Rescue Stockton, UT 1
Joshua Dennis, a 10-year-old gone missing from a Boy Scout exploring trip, was rescued after nearly one week from the abandoned Hidden Treasure Mine near Stockton, Utah.  The boy was found by a Utah Power and Light Company mine rescue team, ranked among the best teams in the country.
Dec 1987 State Top Coal Company Slate Top Mine Roof Fall Woodbine, KY 1
Charles Simpson, Jr. was rescued 19 hours after a roof fall accident at the Slate Top Coal Company mine near Woodbine, Kentucky.
Oct 1987 Leadville Corporation Diamond Mine Hoisting Accident Helper, UT 5
Five miners trapped for more than a day were hauled 800 feet to safety in a bucket about the size of a garbage can.  The became trapped when a cable suspending a 3-ton piece of machinery snapped, sending the equipment and debris plunging into the Diamond gold and silver mine at Leadville, Colorado.  The mine was owned by the Leadville Corporation.
Nov 1985 Bessie "G" Gold Mine Avalanche LaPlata County, CO 1
Following an avalanche at the remote Bessie "G" gold mine in Colorado’s San Juan Mountains, rescuers, including officers from the LaPlata County Sheriff’s Department worked for 24 hours to rescue Lester Jay Morlang.  His partner, Jack Ritter, died of suffocation when the men were buried around 6 p.m.
Apr 1985 Powderhorn Mine Roof Fall DeBeque Canyon, CO 1
Trapped for 37 hours following a roof fall accident, Curtis Sanders was rescued and walked out of the Powderhorn Mine in DeBeque Canyon, Colorado.
Jun 1983 Clinchfield Coal Company McClure No. 1 Mine Explosion McClure, VA 3
Three miners at the faces survived and were rescued shortly after the explosion.  Ronald Sluss, Albert Holbrook, and Carson Blackstone were returned to the surface suffering from burns and were taken to hospitals.
Apr 1981 Mid-Continent Resources, Inc. Dutch Creek No. 1 Mine Explosion Redstone, CO 3
Seven miners working in other areas of the mine at the time of the explosion survived.  Three were injured and were rescued; the other four were not injured and escaped unassisted to the surface.  The injured miners were admitted to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood Springs for treatment of burns, bruises and shock.
Apr 1980 Florence Mining Company Florence Mine Roof Fall Huff, PA 1
Clyde Waddell was rescued 13 hours after a roof fall at the Florence Mine near Huff, Pennsylvania.  The mine was owned by the Florence Mining Company.
Mar 1979 Upper Taggert Mine Rockslide Oven Fork, KY 1
Trapped for 6½ hours by a rockslide at the Upper Taggert Coal Mine at Oven Fork, Kentucky, Larkin Napier was rescued.  Two other miners, Grant Sturgill and Ernest Stetzer, were crushed by the falling rock.
Mar 1977 Kocher Coal Company Porter Tunnel Mine Inundation Tower City, PA 1
Ronald Adley survived after being trapped for nearly 6 days following an inundation of water at the Porter Tunnel Mine owned by the Kocher Coal Company in Tower City, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.  Nine miners were killed in the accident.
Dec 1972 Itmann Coal Company Itmann No. 3 Mine Explosion Itmann, WV 3
Three miners were brought out by rescue crews about six hours after the explosion.  They were identified as Larry Bailey, 23, of Brenton; Dallas Mullins, 32, of Pineville; and Jerry Billings.  All three were said to be in critical condition.
May 1972 Sunshine Mining Company Sunshine Mine Fire Kellogg, ID 2
Two men, Tom Wilkinson and Ronald Flory, were rescued and found to be in good condition after being trapped for 8 days following the Sunshine silver mine fire in Kellogg, Shoshone County, Idaho.  91 miners were killed in the disaster.  The four men responsible for the rescue were Wayne D. Kanack, Frank J. Delimba, and Don Morris from the U. S. Bureau of Mines, and Sonny Becker, a Sunshine miner.
Jun 1971 Eastern Associated Coal Corp. Federal No. 2 Mine Roof Fall Miracle Run, WV 2
As a result of a roof fall, two miners were injured and rescued from the clogged section of an underground tunnel which is 700 feet deep and a mile and a half back in the Eastern Associated Coal Company's Federal No. 2 Mine.  Also injured and recovered from the mine were Robert Lee Strakal, 24, of Cassville, and Steven Shuman, 29, of Fairmont.  Shuman died the next day from his injuries.
Dec 1970 Leckie Coal Company Leckie Mine Roof Fall Anjean, WV 1
Loren Hinkle was rescued after his 24-hour entombment following a roof fall in the Leckie Coal Company mine near Anjean, West Virginia.  Rescuers delivered water and orange juice through a two-inch emergency air vent while they dug him out.  Killed in the accident were R. B. Crookshanks and Charles Pitzenbarger.  Ironically, Hinkle previously escaped death in a mine fire and another roof collapse.
Sep 1970 Ranchers Exploration & Development Corp. Tungsten Mine Mudslide Vance County, NC 1
Richard Owens was rescued 10 hours after being trapped in mud and rock up to his neck in the Ranchers Exploration and Development Corporation’s Tungsten Mine.  The mine is located in Vance County in north-central North Carolina, near the Virginia border.
Jun 1970 Abandoned Hazard Gold Mine Asphyxiation Foresthill, CA 1
Amateur miner, Clifford J. Cox, was pulled out of the abandoned Hazard Gold Mine near Foresthill, California when he was found laying unconscious after 11 hours in the mine.  Would-be rescuer, Lester Benbow, a school teacher, died from a lack of oxygen in the incident.

Rescuer Deaths Since 1970

Since 1970, there have been 18 incidents identified where 50 rescuers were killed.  To read about all that have been identified, visit Mine Rescuer Deaths, Mine Rescuer Death Summary, or download the chronological list in MS Word formatMS Word Icon

Date Company Mine Location Killed
Nov 2013 Star Mine Operations, LLC Revenue-Virginius Mine Asphyxiation Ouray, CO 1
A miner, Nicholas Cappanno, did not return from an area of the mine where an explosive had been previously detonated.  The shift foreman, Rick Williams, went in to search for him.  Eventually they were both found by other miners working in the area, and those miners immediately evacuated the mine.  Mine rescue teams entered the mine and found the two others.  During the recovery operation, they detected fatal levels of carbon monoxide.  The teams brought the victims to the surface.  Twenty miners were taken to the hospital, and three were kept overnight.  All 20 were subsequently released.
Aug 2007 Murray Energy Corporation Crandall Canyon Mine Collapse Huntington, UT 3
On August 16, 2007, three rescue workers were killed and six others were injured when a seismic jolt caused a mine accident during an effort to reach six men who have been trapped at the Crandall Canyon Mine since August 6.  The six men initially killed were Kerry Allred, Luis Hernandez, Carlos Payan, Don Erikson, Manuel Sanchez, and Brandon Phillips.  The three killed during the attempted rescue were Federal Mine Inspector, Gary Jensen, Brandon Kimber and Dale Black.
Oct 2002 Barrick Goldstrike Mining, Inc. Storm Decline Exploration Elko, NV 2
Team trainer, Theodore Milligan and team member, Dale Spring were fatally injured when they collapsed from excessive heat while evaluating the conditions in an inactive gold mine.  The pair's failure to have coolant cartridges installed in their breathing apparatus was identified as a principle contributing factor.
Sep 2001 Jim Walter Resources JWR No. 5 Mine Explosions Brookwood, AL 12
After communicating with the section foreman about the events of the initial blast in 4 Section, 3 other miners entered the 4 Section to rescue the remaining injured miner.  Additional miners from other sections were notified and traveled toward 4 Section to lend assistance.  Five of these miners entered the Section and another 4 reached the mouth of the 4 Section.  The second explosion resulted in 12 fatalities and widespread destruction.
Dec 1985 M. S. & W. Coal Company No. 2 Slope Asphyxiation Carlstown, PA 1
Rick Wolfgang helped his injured brother from the No. 2 Slope of the M. S. & W. Coal Company, but perished when he returned to the 4-foot wide tunnel to try to save his father, Gene Wolfgang.  Toxic gas flooded the area after the men set off a dynamite charge in the mine.  Frank Benner also perished in the accident.
Aug 1985 R & R Coal Company Mine No. 3 Asphyxiations Woodbine, KY 2
Loading and hauling coal after a shot throughout the afternoon, a miner was overcome by CO when his scoop became stuck in the face area.  Two others attempting to save the fallen miner were also overcome.
May 1982 Magma Copper Company Magma Mine Cave-in Superior, AZ 2
At about 2:40 a.m., as two miners were barring down some loose ground near timbers, a cave-in suddenly occurred without warning.  One of the miners was trapped in the collapse.  After unsuccessfully attempting to free the trapped miner, the other miner summoned three miners who were working in an adjacent area.  Their rescue attempts went awry when one of the rescuers removed a steel bar near the trapped miner, triggering a second cave-in.  This collapse fatally injured another miner.  Shortly thereafter, a third cave-in occurred.  This collapse killed the trapped miner as well as a fourth individual.
Sep 1981 The Havlah Group Warrier Gold Mine Explosion Burgdorf, ID 1
After the explosion, Rocke Wilson and Ardy Johnson descended to search for two workman.  Shortly thereafter, both men were suddenly overcome by carbon monoxide.  Two hours later, the general partner and mine manager resumed the search.  During this effort, Johnson was found 75 feet from the portal and Wilson was found 100 feet from the portal.  Subsequent CPR attempts revived Wilson, but Johnson never regained consciousness.
Jun 1981 Grays Knob Coal Company Grays Knob No. 5 Mine Inundation Harlan County, KY 1
The entire section crew, except for two roof bolters, who remained unaccounted for, boarded a scoop to ride to the surface via the man trip route.  Soon after, however, the section foreman left the fleeing scoop to search for the two missing roof bolters.  Later that afternoon, the bodies of the foreman and the two roof bolters - all victims of asphyxiation - were recovered.
Sep 1979 Consolidation Coal Company Mathies Emergency Capsule Accident Peters Twp., PA 1
In the process of testing a newly installed rescue capsule in the 335 foot shaft of Consolidation Coal Company’s Mathies Mine in Peters Township, Washington County, PA, company safety inspector, John Marn, plunged 180 feet to his death after the capsule’s coupling device broke.  The Washington County Coroner, Farrell Jackson, ruled that Edward Nogal, federal mine inspector, was partially responsible for Marn’s death.
Apr 1978 Clinchfield Coal Company Moss No. 3 Portal A Inundation Duty, VA 3
Two of the four miners who were advancing the drainway when the inundation occurred successfully retreated to the surface (one dragged the other).  However, the other two miners perished.  The blackdamp also killed three other men who went underground without protective equipment or adequate gas testing equipment to search for the missing men.  Similarly unequipped during rescue attempts, two other men were also overcome by blackdamp, but were successfully assisted to the surface.  The deceased included the Mine Superintendent, the MSHA Sub-District Manager and a Service Manager from National Mine Service.  Posthumously, Willis D. Ison was bestowed a Valor Award for bravery.
Mar 1976 Scotia Coal Company Scotia Mine Explosions Ovenfork, KY 11
On March 11, 1976, at the time of the second explosion, 13 men were underground near the entrance of 2 Southeast Main; 11 died as the result of the explosion and 2 repairmen working a short distance outby escaped without injury.  Among the 11 killed on March 11 were 3 Federal Mine Inspectors: Kenneth Kiser, age 45; Richard Sammons, age 55; and Grover Tussey, age 45.  This disaster gave birth to the Health and Safety Act of 1977, including new rules for mine rescue teams, stations, and training.
Jun 1975 U. S. Borax and Chemical Corporation Boron Mine and Mill Asphyxiation Boron, CA 1
About 3:30 p.m., June 25, 1975, W. E. (Willie) Dodderer, millwright, age 27, was asphyxiated when he and Eric R. Willis, millwright, entered a caisson in an attempt to rescue Brent Black, millwright, age 35, who had succumbed earlier in an oxygen deficient atmosphere.
May 1975 Peabody Coal Company Deer Creek Mine Roof Fall Huntington, UT 1
A roof fall occurred in the Deep Creek mine that resulted in the death of two men.  During recovery operations later the same day, another man was killed and two more injured.  In an effort to help their friends, Alfred Willis of Huntington was killed and two other men were injured and hospitalized.
Apr 1971 Ozark-Mahoning Company Barnett Complex H2S Poisoning Rosiclare, IL 5
Two brothers, William and Philip Long, entered an area of the mine and were subsequently overcome by Hydrogen Sulfide gas.  An additional 5 employees made several attempts to reach the Long brothers and bring them to fresh air.  After finally reaching the downed brothers and loading them onto a locomotive to bring them out, they too were overcome and killed by the toxic gas.
Mar 1971 Buckeye Coal Company Nemacolin Mine Fire Nemacolin, PA 1
On April 16, 1971, at about 1:30 p.m., William L. Groves, State Deep Mine Inspector, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Resources, was accidentally drowned during the firefighting operations.
Oct 1970 Tenneco Oil Company Open-Pit Uranium Mine Electrocution Texas 1
A miner was electrocuted when he drove a portable drill rig with the mast up into a high voltage powerline.  In an attempt to rescue the truck driver, another miner was also electrocuted.
Jun 1970 Volcano Canyon Mining Company Hazard Gold Mine Asphyxiation Foresthill, CA 1
Lester E. Benbow, age 41, schoolteacher, Foresthill Elementary School, was asphyxiated in the Hazard Gold Mine in the early morning of June 20, 1970, when he attempted to rescue Clifford J. Cox, who was overcome in an oxygen deficient atmosphere.  He had no mining experience.  Cox was later transported to the hospital, and reportedly made a complete recovery.



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