Utah miner killed in roof fall could not evade death twice
Elam Jones came close to death in a central Utah mine accident once before. He was preparing to begin his shift in the Crandall Canyon mine in August 2007 when a cave-in struck the section where he was to have worked, killing six miners and three rescuers.
The 28-year-old coal miner was not so lucky on Friday. A tunnel roof collapsed in the Rhino Mine about 10 miles west of Huntington, killing him and sending a co-worker to the hospital.
Even though the earlier accident occurred only a few miles away, Jones loved his job and did not view it as particularly dangerous, said his mother, Julie Jones, a Huntington city councilwoman.
“He loved the mine he was at and the men he worked with. They were family,” she said on Saturday. “He always said he could get hit going to Salt Lake and get killed in a car wreck.”
Jones also was a member of the ill-fated rescue team at the Crandall Canyon mine. Three rescuers died while trying to save the trapped miners. He later spoke at a vigil for those who died or were injured there.
“He told me that he had to be there. Those were his buddies,” his mother said.
A father of two young children, Jones' roots in coal mining went back four generations on his mother's side and three generations on his father's side. His father works for a nearby coal mine.