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Silver Valley Miner’s Family Still Angry

Mike Marek talks about his brother, Larry, who was killed in an accident at the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan in April 2011. (Family Photo courtesy of Jessica Robinson)

Mike Marek was rolling up his water hose, about to make the last wrap, when it happened. “Loud thuds like, ‘Vvoof, vvoof.’ And instantly it’s just dust,” he said. The dust choked the air, turning into a grayish fog under his miner’s headlamp. After what seemed like minutes, the air cleared enough for Marek to make his way down the tunnel to where his mining partner and younger brother Larry Marek had been working. And then his light landed on it. “A huge pile of boulders and sand,” Mike Marek said. “That’s when I was praying, ‘Oh my god, I hope he ain’t under that.’ ” Marek called out, “ ‘Larry! Larry!’ I was trying to move rocks with my hands. Then I’d holler some more.” It was April 15, 2011/Jessica Robinson, Northwest News Network. More here.

Question: I lost my father in a vehicle accident in October 1976. Have you ever lost a family member in an accident?

Lucky Friday Mine Anything But Lucky

Hecla officials have voluntarily shut down the Lucky Friday Mine after the now fatal accident that took the life of miner Brandon Gray over the weekend.Last week's accident was the third time this year that a fire or a cave-in have forced the closure of the mine, including the tunnel collapse that killed Larry Marek on April 15.So far 14 people have died in non-coal US mining accidents spread out between Alaska and Florida this year, but only one — the Lucky Friday Mine — has suffered a pair of fatalities/Jeff Humphrey, KXLY. More here. (KXLY photo)

Question: What do you think? Is the Lucky Friday Mine particularly unlucky this year? Or is there something else going on under ground over there?

DP: MSHA Should Clean On House 1st

DeePee (re: Feds pledge mine cave-in probe): Oh boy, just what we need: a bunch of coal-mining types, who don’t understand a thing about hard-rock mining, “investigating” what happened here. MSHA inspectors have standing orders to sweat western hard-rock mining companies here for every violation they can, no matter how trivial and irrelevant to safety, in order to keep funding the agency. That they will attempt to capitalize on the tragedy of one mining family (and community) is simply egregious. MSHA ran a full inspection of the Lucky Friday not very long ago and found nothing of import wanting, and Pete’s is the mine’s first fatality in a quarter of a century. MSHA should clean its own house, including the rule that no rescue efforts can begin until their people show up from all over the country, when there are people “on the ground” and ready to roll right away.

Question: Can any mine ever be safe enough to prevent a cave-in?

INW: Feds Pledge Mine Cave-in Probe

An unidentified man walks toward the covered staircase leading to the second level at the Lucky Friday Mine in Mullan, Idaho, on Sunday. Larry Marek's body was recovered Sunday after more than a week of rescue efforts.  The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has promised to thoroughly investigate the cause of the roof collapse. Click here. (SR photo: J. Bart Rayniak)

Body Of Lucky Friday Miner Recovered

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/Spokesman-Review. More here.

INW: Camera Can’t Find Missing Miner

Don Capparelli speaks about Larry Marek at his home in Page on Monday. Capparelli, now retired, was Marek's supervisor while the two worked at the Sunshine Mine in the late 1990s. The effort to reach Marek, a 30-year mining veteran, had stretched into a third day after he was trapped in the collapse about 5:30 p.m. Friday in the Lucky Friday mine while his brother, another mine worker, escaped. A tiny camera lowered behind the rock collapse has shown no signs of life. Story here. (AP Photo/The Spokesman-Review, Kathy Plonka)