Today marks the five year anniversary of the Crandall Canyon Mine disaster, a tragedy that shook Carbon and Emery Counties to their core. A tragedy of which the ensuing aftershocks are still being felt five years later.
On August 6, 2007 a catastrophic mine collapse at the mine killed six of our fathers, husbands, brothers, neighbors and friends. Ten days later, the mine claimed three more lives and left another six injured.
Since the mine disaster five years ago, the community has been trying to move forward. В Family members of the lost miners were able to be heard before a congressional committee in Washington DC, where they hoped their words would do something to improve mine safety, and ensure that the lives of their loved ones were not lost in vain; two memorials have since been dedicated to the lost miners, one at the mine site, and one at a park in Huntington that sits along the route to Huntington Canyon where the Crandall Canyon Mine is located; Governor Huntsman established the State Office of Coal Mine Safety; in March, Genwal Resources, Inc. pleaded guilty to criminal charges in conjunction with the Crandall Canyon mine collapse; and most recent, a new Center for Mining Safety and Health Excellence has been set up at University of Utah.
Although the community is taking steps to heal, the ultimate sacrifice of the nine miners will never be forgotten.В As the families of the nine try to come to terms with the tragedy of losing their loved ones, the nightmare of those hellish events surrounding the cave-in and rescue attempts at the mine are still being re-lived by others.
Mitch Horton was on the rescue team the night of the second deadly bounce. В Horton was lucky enough to make it out of the mine alive, but he is still trying to deal with the repercussions of what happened that night.
“I deal with depression a lot and I get panic attacks a lot,” said Horton. “I attribute those things to the mine disaster.”
“I think about it quite regular, and I try to block it out of my head. В You’d think after 5 years you wouldn’t think about about stuff like that, but it keeps in your mind way more clearly than you would think.В The thought re-plays over in my head of those rescuer miners being trapped and screaming, and me not being able to help them fast enough.В I think about why I was able to walk out of there with my life, and others weren’t.” related Horton.
With recent rumors surfacing of Murray Energy making plans to reopen the mine, the community is experiencing mixed emotions.В While some say that “people need jobs” and therefore the mine should re-open, others say the mine is now “sacred ground” because the bodies of the six trapped miners remain deep in the mountain.
Although Murray Energy has said that they have, “no plans whatsoever to reopen the mine”, they are still maintaining the lease on the property and have reportedly expressed interest in mining the property in the future.
As only time will tell what Murray Energy has in store for the Crandall Canyon property,В I hope we all take a few minutes today, to give an encouraging smile or a pat on the back to the family members of the lost miners, as well as those involved in the rescue attempts that are still with us. В Let them know their sacrifices were not in vain and that we have not forgotten them.
Kerry Allred,В Don Erickson,В Luis Hernandez,В Carlos Payan,В Brandon Phillips,В Manuel Sanchez,В Dale Black,В Gary Jensen, and Brandon Kimber.
May they rest in peace.