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Sam Penrod Reporting
More bad news from the latest drill to punch into the Crandall Canyon mine: the area is completely full of debris, once again showing no signs of life. Now, 17 days since the miners' disappearance, hope for their rescue is fading. The latest effort to make contact with them has failed.
The drill today found only six inches of space, meaning no miners could have survived in that area of the mine. Now the mining company will drill once more, if for nothing else, to assure everyone the six miners won't be coming out alive.
Rescuers banged on the drill and lowered a microphone through the fifth hole, but heard nothing. A camera will be put down the hole and rescuers will see what is down there.
Crews will begin drilling tomorrow on the sixth and final hole into the Crandall Canyon mine, in the same area where the first two holes were drilled, in the spot where the miners were working on August 6th.
Robert Murray, President of the Murray Energy Corporation said, "That will bring closure to me that I can never get them out alive. Bringing closure to the families is well beyond my power and it is going to have to be in hands of people a lot better than I am."
Murray continues to find himself under heavy criticism from the families of the six miners. In a written statement they accuse him of delivering the news Monday night that the six miners were dead without tact or respect. Tonight, friends of the miners posted signs outside the mine, protesting Murray's belief that it is too dangerous to send anyone into the mine to recover the miners' bodies.
Stephanie McNeil, a friend of trapped miner Manuel Sanchez, said, "What is this showing for other miners? That they are going to leave you there. And it isn't fair and it doesn't give other miners hope."
KSL asked Murray directly tonight about when he lost hope of rescuing the six miners. He said he became convinced after seeing the destruction inside the mine after Thursday's tragedy involving the rescue miners, and the fact the air samples in the mine show oxygen levels are too low for anyone to survive. He says he understands why the families can't accept it yet.
"They're grieved, they are concerned, they are frustrated, and I've become the brunt of their frustration, but I've been with them from day one," Murray said. He continued, "I've told them the truth and been consistent with them from day one, and I've just been the bearer of bad news."
The latest drill should reach the mine by Saturday. If no contact is made, all of the hope that people have held onto over the last 17 days may give into the painful reality that the six miners didn't survive.
Murray is denying that another part of the mine will be used to continue mining. "I told MSHA when I came out the night with the blood on my hands from the recovery, that that is an evil mountain. It's alive, and I will never go back in there," Murray said.
Meanwhile the family members of the six miners remain angry and frustrated with Bob Murray.
In a two-page written statement from a family member, it blasts Murray's speech to the family on Monday night, when Murray informed the families there is no hope left of rescuing the miners outside.
Quoting from the statement, it reads, "He very aggressively told the families to give up. That we might as well stop. He did not deliver any part of his message with tact or respect."
They also say Murray tried to place guilt on them for the deaths of the three rescuers. They say he told them, "We are a team...We have made all of the decision together. But last week I, no let me correct this, we killed three people."
Rumors of plans to resume mining in the area prompted Governor Huntsman to order the immediate inspection of two other mines owned by Murray Energy.
On KSL Newsradio's Nightside Project Tuesday night, the governor said, "I read something last night about the continuation of mining, not in this exact mine, but certainly in the mountain, as soon as things are sealed off. That's just totally unacceptable. There will not be business as usual until there is closure."
Huntsman said mine owner Robert Murray needs to bring closure to the families, even if it takes every dollar he has.
Murray says he plans to seal up this mine, and all of the workers from the Crandall Canyon are being transferred to the West Ridge and Tower Mine, which Murray owns in Carbon County. Murray said, "I haven't had a chance to think about the future other than to tell Mr. Stickler of the Secretary of Labor that I would be submitting papers to them to immediately seal and close the mine. It's alive, and it's an evil mountain, and had I ever known there would ever be such a tragedy."
Murray disputed other claims today. Murray wanted it known that he hasn't left the mountain since he arrived hours after the August 6 collapse. He says he's living in a tiny trailer on the mine site.
He says he did drop out of the briefings for a while after last Thursday's collapse because, as he put it, he came apart. Murray confirmed he was under a doctor's care.