The body of Lucky Friday miner Larry Marek was recovered this afternoon after he was killed in a mine collapse on April 15, Hecla Mining Co. announced today.
The Coeur d’Alene company had had crews working 24 hours a day since that collapse trying to reach Marek in hopes he survived the cave-in and was trapped behind a massive rock pile.
However, the company issued a news release at 7 p.m. saying that the 53-year-old’s body was recovered and that his family had been notified.
“Words cannot express the deep sorrow we feel at the tragic loss of our friend, colleague and 30-year veteran of the mining industry. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, loved ones and friends,” the release said.
Marek’s family members, who had remained on site at the mine during the search, departed Saturday night, said Stefany Bales, a Hecla spokeswoman.
On Saturday, rescue crews had advanced 184 feet into a 220-foot tunnel in their attempt to reach Marek. When they drilled holes from that location to determine the condition inside the space where Marek had been working, they encountered only rubble and sand and no open spaces, a company news release said.
Marek had worked for Hecla for a dozen years.
Mining operations were halted when the tunnel where Marek was working with his brother, Mike, collapsed. Mike Marek escaped.
Hecla CEO Phil Baker said in a videotaped statement this morning that “it is Easter morning. Here at the Lucky Friday Mine in Northern Idaho we have been hoping for a miracle for more than a week,” but that now those hopes have been dashed.
Now that Marek’s body has been recovered, the company will begin an investigation into how and why the collapse occurred, the release said.
Baker said it has been more than 25 years since the Lucky Friday has had a fatality.