RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — Four individuals are missing in an idled mine for well over 50 hours. Every passing minute is agony for their families as they hold on to the hope that they will be reunited.
“I’ve got a grandson in there, and sir I know what you’re thinking, I know he shouldn’t have been in there, ” shouted on family member. “But that’s besides the point… he’s in there!”
Family and loved ones of the missing people gathered in a community building in Whitesville, anxiously awaiting news from mine officials.
Henry Basham, step-father of one of the individuals, said, “It’s a feeling that nobody should feel, I mean not knowing what’s happening, not knowing what’s going on. They’ve been in there for 50 plus hours, and we are grasping to every little hope we can.”
One of the mothers, Martha Basham, said, “I’ve just been so worried, I love my kids, everybody does. We all make mistakes I just want them to come home. I just want them out of there today. “
The four individuals were last seen on Saturday, December 8, around 3 a.m. The Miner’s Health Safety & training mine rescue team was activated early Sunday morning after their abandoned ATV was found near an entrance to the Elk Run Coal Company’s Rock House Powellton Mine in Clear Creek, WV.
“Water, roof, bad gasses, low oxygen, there’s a lot of different things that are dangerous underground, especially to people who don’t know,” Basham said.
So far, rescue teams and law enforcement have not had any luck being able to access the mine.
“Its not their fault…by no means whatsoever. They’re good people. Its just regulated, like everything in the industry is regulated,” Basham explained.
According to representatives with the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training, rough terrain and heavy snow prevented the rescue team from accessing the mine portal where the abandoned ATV was found, so they are trying to use alternate entrances.
One family member, Camilia WIlliams, said, “I do appreciate everything that they’re doing and they’re still trying to do, but it’s somebody’s mom or dad or sister or daughter..it’s been three days now and they have not even entered the mine yet. If there’s any chance at all, time is ticking.”
MHS&T continues to help the Raleigh County Sheriff’s Department, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department, West Virginia State Police and mine officials in the ongoing search. The community is also willing to risk their own lives to go in after the four, no matter what.
“These four people still deserve a voice too, they may have done wrong, but they still have a voice too that needs to be heard,” Williams said. “Everyone in here is a coal miner. There’s not one person here that wouldn’t walk into the mines right now and search for them if they would just let us in.”
The West Virginia National Guard sent six soldiers and three Humvees to assist in the ongoing search efforts.