WHITESVILLE, W.Va. — Two women and one man are still missing in an abandoned Raleigh County mine after entering on Saturday but families members and friends of the missing are still hopeful.
They gathered inside Salamy Memorial Center in Whitesville on Tuesday to console one another and gather the latest information on the search for loved ones.
“I believe I can speak for most of the community when saying that we’re grieving, we’re anxious, we’re hopeful, we’re tired and wore out but we got a lot of hope,” Greg Scarbro, grandfather of one of the missing and local pastor, said.
“I’m here for not only for hope and prayer for my grandson but for the other kids that are in there. Just trying to support everybody, pray for them, show them that we are here for them and get through this whole ordeal.”
Scarbro said that some hope comes from the fact that one person who entered the Elk Run Coal Company’s Rock House Powellton Mine near Clear Creek with the other three, managed to find their way out.
According to Raleigh County Sheriff Scott Van Meter, Eddie Williams, 43, of Artie exited the mine on Monday night after entering with Erica Treadway, 31, of Pax, Kayla Williams, 25, of Artie, and Cody Beverly, 21, of Dorothy on Saturday. Williams is working with law enforcement in the search for the other three.
“One of the men that came out on his own gave us some hope,” Scarbro said. “He came out on his knees in the dark and it gave us hope that he had air to breathe and all the essentials he needed. He gave us hope that they had some water, some lunch cakes, and snacks to survive a few days.”
Governor Jim Justice visited Whitesville on Monday night and has ordered all resources possible to be put towards the rescue of the three missing individuals.
Justice said in a statement on Tuesday: “Our priority is rescuing these individuals and maintaining the safety of our mine rescue teams. I have ordered the coordination of all resources needed for rescuers to continue to search the mine. We’re doing everything we can to accelerate the rescue.”
Mine rescue teams have installed fans to get air circulating in the mine and have begun using water pumps to get some of the water out that has been built up deep inside. Mine rescue teams led by the Office of Miners’ Health, Safety, and Training is hoping to get past where they have already searched but had to stop due to water.
The area is mining country and has experienced disasters surrounding mines as the Upper Big Branch Miners Memorial is in Whitesville right next to Salamy Memorial Center. Scarbro has worked in mines and said he was shocked to find out about this incident.
“I went Christmas shopping, got home and my daughter had told me what was going on,” he said. “I didn’t believe it at first but it came to be true.
“It’s a dangerous place to be and I wouldn’t advise anybody to go in an abandoned mine. I’ve got 30 years of underground experience and I know it is a very dangerous place to be. Especially with abandoned mines with no fans, no water pumps, nothing to sustain life.”