SYNOPSIS OF KEY EVENTS:
The information in this synopsis is derived from witness interviews, state and federal records, news reports, and other sources. The times listed are approximate.
MONDAY, APRIL 5, 2010
5:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Dayshift crews of miners began to arrive at UBB. By 7:00 am, at least 45 miners were underground, and the longwall, HG22 and TG22 crews were on their sections. At 10:00 am, the longwall crew notifies the dispatcher that they are not running coal because the hinge pin on the ranging arm is loose.
2:30 – 3:00 p.m.
At 2:30 pm, fireboss Mike Elswick (deceased) reports by telephone to fireboss Scott Halstead five readings of CH4 0.0% and 20.8% oxygen, but also records that conveyor belts have too much accumulated coal and need rock dust. Longwall headgate operator Rex Mullins (deceased) calls out that the section is still down but should be operating within 10 minutes. At 2:40 pm, longwall section foreman Richard Lane (deceased) calls out a pre-shift report to Kevin Medley reporting 0% CH4 and 20.8% oxygen. TG22 crew begins their mantrip ride out of the mine. At 2:42 pm, Rex Mullins (deceased) says they are running coal and the shear is going to tail. At 2:58, James Woods operating the mantrip with the TG22 crew calls the dispatcher for a road from break 78. At 2:59:38 pm, the crew cut power to the longwall by disconnecting the shearer manual stop button.
3:01 – 3:02 p.m.
Explosion erupts through the mine blasting debris out the portals and lasting for several minutes. The carbon monoxide monitoring system alarms and mine fan records show a major disruption to the ventilation.
3:05 – 3:30 p.m.
Greg Clay (dispatcher) calls Performance Coal President Chris Blanchard at the Marfork office. Blanchard tells Jonah Bowles (director of safety, Marfork Coal) to call the MSHA and WVMHST emergency hotlines and report “an air reversal on the belt line and CO 50-100 ppm.” Six Performance Coal personnel enter UBB from the Ellis portal; four others enter from the UBB portal.
3:30 – 4:30 p.m.
Four trained Massey Energy mine rescue personnel (Rob Asbury, Jim Auerdnik, Mike Bolen, Shane McPherson) arrive at UBB; two of them proceed underground. The six-person group that entered UBB earlier see a light at break 46-47 coming towards them. They run towards it and encounter TG22 crew member Tim Blake at break 42. One of them stays with Blake, the others go deeper into the mine toward the TG22 crew’s mantrip. They find eight miners, some dead, some still responsive, at break 66, and place them onto two mantrips and head out of the mine. As they exit, they meet up with the two Massey mine rescue team members (Asbury and Auerdnik) who assist with the victims. Performance Coal officials Chris Blanchard and Jason Whitehead do not exit with the victims, but remain and go further underground. The Whitesville Fire Department receives a call at 4:22 pm requesting an ambulance and it arrives at UBB at 4:30 pm.
4:30 pm – 5:30 p.m.
MSHA District Manager Robert Hardman arrives at UBB with other MSHA staff and issues a control order. The mine rescue plan allows for two mine rescue teams to enter the mine and establish a fresh air base (FAB) at crosscut 35.
5:30 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
WVMHST issues a control order. MSHA administrator Kevin Stricklin arrives at the mine, while family members begin gathering at the Marfork Safety building, and the press assembles at the Marsh Fork Elementary school. MSHA and WVMHST officials begin taking written notes of the command center’s activities. Mine rescue teams advance the FAB to 78 break. Blanchard and Whitehead report encountering high carbon monoxide levels on the tail side of the longwall, and seeing victims on the longwall track (later identified as Cory Davis, Timmy Davis, Adam Morgan, and Joshua Napper.)
8:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
Officials conduct first briefing for the miners’ families. Massey Energy issues a news release reporting “7 dead and 19 unaccounted for.” Mine rescue personnel underground appear to include two teams from WVMHST, members of two of International Coal Group’s teams, members of Southern Community & Technical College’s Task Force 1, Massey Energy’s Southern WV teams, East Kentucky and Knox Creek teams, and MSHA’s Jerry Cook, Fred Wills and Mike Hicks. Victim found at conveyor belt head drive (later identified as Mike Elswick.)
10:30 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Some mine rescuers proceed toward the longwall and others toward HG22. Victim found at the longwall stage loader (later identified as Rex Mullins.) Mine rescue team reports finding the refuge chamber near the longwall, but it has not been deployed. Carbon monoxide readings on HG22 at crosscut 3 are 600 ppm and 867 ppm. Families are told there are five more deceased, but unnamed miners.
11:30 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. (April 6, 2010)
One mine rescue team moves across the longwall face and finds six more victims (later identified as Christopher Bell, Richard Lane, Dillard Persinger, Joel Price, Gary Quarles and Grover Skeens). Another team finds six victims on HG22 section (later identified as Kenneth Chapman, William Griffith, Ronald Maynor, James Mooney, Boone Payne and Ricky Workman.) Command Center still unsure of the number of miners unaccounted. The team on the HG22 section reports their gas detectors are over-the-range for carbon monoxide and methane. Command Center orders teams to exit the mine. The bodies of the 18 victims have been located but not removed from the mine. Four miners (later identified as Gregory Brock, Dean Jones, Joe Marcum and Nicolas McCroskey) have not yet been located.
TUESDAY, APRIL 6, 2010
Chris Adkins announces to the families there are 24 deceased miners, and four miners who have not yet been located. He indicates that he did not hold out much hope for the four missing men.
2:30 – 3:30 a.m.
All mine rescue team members exit the mine, along with Chris Blanchard and Jason Whitehead. Governor Manchin and Congressman Rahall speak to the families and indicate there are 25 deceased miners and four missing men.
Rescue plan calls for drilling three boreholes near HG22 section. Monitoring of gases continues through the day.
MSHA’s seismic equipment is set-up, but does not detect any unusual noise from underground.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 7, 2010
Monitoring of gases continues throughout the day. Briefings for families conducted at various times by Governor Joe Manchin, Congressman Nick Rahall, MSHA’s Kevin Stricklin, WVMHST’s Ron Wooton, Massey Energy’s Don Blankenship and Chris Adkins
THURSDAY, APRIL 8, 2010
Briefings for families conducted throughout the day by Governor Joe Manchin, MSHA’s Kevin Stricklin, Massey Energy’s Chris Adkins, and others.
3:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Rescue plan modified to resume exploration to locate the four remaining miners and to recover the victims found previously. Four mine rescue teams enter the mine. By 9:30 am gas readings at a borehole show explosive levels; rescue teams withdrawn.
FRIDAY, APRIL 9, 2010
Funeral services begin for the seven miners from the TG22 crew.
12:30 a.m. – 5:00 a.m.
Two mine rescue teams enter the mine. Later detect elevated carbon monoxide levels and smoke. Ordered to exit the mine at 5:00 am.
4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
Two mine rescue teams enter the mine while nitrogen continues to be injected into the mine through a borehole. Two additional teams enter the mine after 7:00 pm.
10:00 p.m. – 11:30 p.m.
Mine rescue team on the HG22 section find remaining victims (later identified as Gregory Brock, Dean Jones and Joe Marcum.) Mine rescue team on the longwall section find final victim (later identified as Nicolas McCroskey).
Don Blankenship, Chris Adkins, Governor Manchin, MSHA’s Joe Main and Kevin Stricklin, and others provide final briefing for the families. Chris Adkins announces that the entire mine has been explored, all the miners have been accounted for, and there are no survivors. MSHA’s family liaison notes indicate “the briefing breaks down for 20-25 minutes.”
SATURDAY, APRIL 10, 2010
Plans are developed to recover the bodies of the remaining 22 victims while examining the mine for dangerous conditions that could put the recovery teams’ lives at risk. Some of the victims’ bodies are removed from the mine and transported to the temporary morgue on mine property. At 5:50 pm, the teams retreat because of elevated carbon monoxide and low oxygen levels.
SUNDAY, APRIL 11, 2010
Midnight – 3:00 a.m.
Mine rescue teams continue their work, but retreat when carbon monoxide levels exceed 2800 ppm. No victims are removed from the mine.
MONDAY, APRIL 12, 2010
Mine rescue team members begin removing the bodies of the remaining victims.
TUESDAY, April 13, 2010
By early morning April 13, all the miners’ bodies have been removed from the mine.