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Mother identifies man killed in Emery County mine collapse

By McKenzie Romero and Geoff Liesik, | Posted - Mar 22nd, 2013 @ 11:28pm

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HUNTINGTON, Emery County — One miner has been rescued and another is dead following a collapse at the Rhino Mine in Bear Canyon, which is located about 20 miles west of Huntington.

The collapse occurred just before 3:15 p.m. Friday with reports that two coal miners were buried inside, according to the Emery County Sheriff's Office. Two ambulances responded with sheriff's personnel and one miner, identified by the Emery County Sheriff's Office as Dallen McFarlane, was transported to Castleview Hospital in Price.

The deceased miner was identified by relatives as 28-year-old Elam Jones. His mother, Huntington City Councilmember Julie Jones, said her son had previously survived two avalanches and an ATV accident that left him with 72 stitches.

Julie Jones said she knew what had happened as soon as she picked up the phone Friday afternoon.

"Elam's wife called and said, 'There's been a cave-in at the mine.' And we both knew in our hearts and in our stomachs that it was Elam," she said.

Elam's wife called and said, 'There's been a cave-in at the mine.' And we both knew in our hearts and in our stomachs that it was Elam.

–Julie Jones, Elam Jones' mother

Elam Jones' body was recovered about 6 p.m., the sheriff's office reported. After that, a mine company representative and an officer showed up on Julie Jones' doorstep.

"They were in tears, the officer that came with him was in tears," Julie Jones said. "They are truly a family. I don't blame them at all. There is no blame to be had by anybody."

She knows some will question how she can let the men she loves work in the mines. She faced those questions after the Crandall Canyon mine disaster as well. For her, the answer is simple, and one she's proud of.

"It's so everybody else can have a job," she said. "You guys get to turn on your power, you guys get to turn on your microwaves, because my guys dig coal."

McFarlane, a representative for Casleview Hospital said, was treated and released. His injuries were not immediately known.

Huntington Mayor Hilary Gordon said memories and feelings from another disaster are fresh in her mind. Gordon was mayor when a collapse at the nearby Crandall Canyon mine killed six workers and three rescuers. Six more rescuers were injured.

Aerial view of Rhino Mine in Bear Canyon, about 10 miles west of Huntington. A roof fall in the mine Friday killed 28-year-old Elam Jones and injured fellow miner Dallen McFarlane. (Photo: KSL Chopper 5)

"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."

"Obviously our concern is for them no matter where they’re from," Gordon said. "Even though these little towns are separated, we're interconnected."

On a company website, Rhino Resource Partners reports finishing 2012 with a safety rate about the national average and decreasing safety violations. Last year the company received seven Sentinels of Safety awards from the U.S. Department of Labor. 

More information will be posted as it becomes available.

Contributing: Paul Nelson and Mike Anderson


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