BOONE COUNTY, W.Va. — The search for a missing man in a Boone County mine was called off for safety concerns, according to the director of the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training.
The search for Wes Blackburn, of Oceana, was called off Thursday after crews went 1,000 feet into the abandoned mine near Wharton. The former Lightfoot No. 1 Blackhawk Mine closed in 1998 and had been sealed.
“The mining conditions stopped us from exploring any further due to roof falls and the fact we only have one way in, one way out of the mine,” Eugene White with the state Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training. “We elected to stop the search.”
Amanda Pennington, of Oceana, told officials Monday when approached two men were in the mine. One man who had exited the mine — Gary Gibson, of Oceana — was charged with breaking and entering. Authorities said they believe the men entered the mine in order to get copper from cables in the mine.
The rescue team included two state mining officials and one member with Blackhawk Mining.
White said they are still classifying Blackburn as a missing person.
“There was evidence of persons being in this abandoned mine, but we did not detect anyone or locate anyone,” he added. “There are still areas of the mine that we couldn’t get into safely, so we’re treating this still as a missing person.”