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Miner who died after flash flooding in Emery County coal mine identified

Emery County crews clean up after a flash flooding event near the Gentry Mountain Mine that killed one man on Sunday.

Emery County crews clean up after a flash flooding event near the Gentry Mountain Mine that killed one man on Sunday. (Emery County Sheriff's Office)

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HUNTINGTON — The man who died in Emery County on Sunday after flash flood waters near a mine swept him away has been identified.

The man was identified by Emery County Sheriff's Office as Gary Nelson, 48, of Fairview.

Nelson died near Gentry Mountain Mine, which is located in Bear Canyon in Emery County, according to a news release from Emery County emergency officials.

About 10:15 p.m. Sunday, mine crews were heading up a hill to enter the Gentry Mountain coal mine when they saw a wall of water and debris coming down Bear Canyon, according to the release.

One man whose shift had just ended was the first to be impacted by the flood. The water overtook his vehicle, but he was able to reach out and grab a tree, pulling himself from the vehicle. He wasn't able to hold on to the tree and was carried about a quarter of a mile down the canyon. He was transported to a hospital and is expected to recover, Emery County officials report.

A second mining vehicle, which was carrying eight men to the mine, was hit by the flood and rolled at least four times. The men were able to kick out the windows of the vehicle and escape to safety.

A third mining vehicle was further down the canyon, the release said. Upon seeing the flood, the driver reversed the vehicle and tried to move out of the direct path of the flood, but was unable to avoid it. The people in the vehicle got out and went to higher ground, but water and debris swept around them.

The flooding was on the surface only and did not affect any underground mining crews, the news release says.

Nelson was swept away into the water and was carried downstream. Emergency crews and personnel from the mine searched the area overnight and into Monday morning.

At 11:15 a.m. Monday, crews located Nelson's body about 6 miles downstream.

Nelson had worked at the mine for the past 10 years. He leaves behind a wife and three daughters, according to a GoFundMe set up by the family.

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Ashley Fredde covers human services and and women's issues for She also enjoys reporting on arts, culture and entertainment news. She's a graduate of the University of Arizona.


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