Reports of a cave in at Rhino’s Castle Valley Mine located in Huntington on March 22 sent shock waves throughout the area.
Twenty-eight year old Elam Jones and felloew friend and Miner Dallin McFarlane were trapped under a large slab of rock during the cave in. Jones suffered fatal injuries during the incident, leaving many questions as to what happened..
The Mine Safety and Health Administration released a preliminary accident report on March 26 shedding light on what may have occurred at the Emery County mine.
According to the report, Jones and McFarlane were operating a continuous miner. The shuttle car operator returned from dropping a load of coal off to find the continuous miner equipment and operators caved in on by a slab of roof rock. The incident took place at approximately 3:05 pm and was reported immediately to mine officials. A search for the missing pair began thereafter.
“Both miners were located just inby the right back corner of the continuous mining machine.” the MSHA report stated.The report went on to state that McFarlane was “located next to the continuous miner in a void created by the rock leaning against the machine.”
Upon finding Jones, it was determined that he did not survive the rock fall.
The preliminary accident report indicates that Jones had nine years mining experience, with over one year in the Castle Valley Mine.
The retreat mining operation currently employs 125 workers with 102 of those employees underground. According to MSHA, there were 21 workers in the mine at the time of the accident.
“A full investigation is underway,” MSHA Spokesperson Amy Louviere said. “This is only a preliminary report and the mine remains idle while we look into the matter.”
Final details will be released by the mine safety agency once the investigation is completed.