God 'Dictated' Miner's Likely Deaths, Insists Millionaire Mine Owner


8-22-07, 9:39 am

In a press conference on Monday (Aug. 21), Robert E. Murray, co-owner of Murray Energy which owns and operate the Crandall Canyon Mine near Huntington, Utah, told reporters that 'What's ever happened, the Lord already dictated. There's no sense in beating around the bush.'

Murray was describing his remarks at a meeting with the families of Luis Alonso Hernandez, Manuel Sanchez, Kerry Allred, Brandon Phillips, Don Erickson, and Carlos Payan who have been trapped for more than two weeks in Murray's mine. Murray also emphasized to the families his desire to call off the rescue operations.

Murray then presented plans for sealing off the collapsed portion of the mine in which the six miners are trapped in order to resume mining operations in other parts of the mine.

Murray's announcement came just two days after MSHA, in conjunction with Murray, decided to halt underground rescue operations.

The decision was made after a second collapse on Aug. 17th claimed the lives of three rescue workers and injured six others.

Above-ground operations continued yesterday, but MSHA officials reportedly expressed pessimism about success, hinting that operations will likely halt if 'proof of life' isn't soon discovered.

According to one media report, leaving trapped miners underground (alive or dead) is almost unprecedented. The last time it happened apparently was 1900.

One Salt Lake City reporter described the effect of Murray's comments on the families on PBS's The Jim Lehrer News Hour. Brent Hunsaker of Salt Lake City's ABC News affiliate said that family members described talks with Murray as 'gruff' and that he appeared to 'be berating them' for asking him to do more to find their family members.

'The families just felt unbelievable anguish' at Murray's comments, reported Hunsaker.

Sonny Olsen, an attorney and spokesperson for the families of the trapped miners, expressed condolences to the families of the rescue workers killed and injured in the second collapse.

He told CNN that the families continue to hope their loved ones will be found alive.

Olsen described Murray's language as 'very strong language' and rejected Murray's claim that everything possible was done to rescue the trapped workers.

'The families are concerned at this point,' Olsen said. 'The families do not feel that Mr. Murray or Murray Energy or MSHA, for that matter, have done everything they can and used every asset and every means at their disposal to find the families' love ones.'

Olsen called for simultaneous bore hole drilling in the area where the miners are believed to be, noting that the families had asked Murray and MSHA to conduct simultaneous drilling all along. The bore holes were drilled one at a time.

Cody Allred, the son of Kerry Allred told one reporter that he believed Murray and MSHA could do more. 'If it was one of their family members, I personally believe that they would do whatever it took,' said Allred.

He also said that he felt that his father was still alive and waiting for rescuers to break through the rock any minute.

Cecil E. Roberts, president of the United Mine Workers of America, described Murray's statements as 'callous.' He added, 'Murray Energy not only demonstrates complete disregard for the families of those still missing in the mine and those in the community, but the company also demonstrates that it has learned nothing from this disaster.'

Mine safety experts and the union say the mining collapse resulted from human errors such as employing dangerous mining techniques and the lack of safety enforcement and equipment.

-Reach Joel Wendland at

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