Golconda, IL Poisonous Mine Gas, Apr 1971



Golconda, Ill. (AP) -- The seven Southern Illinois miners killed by poisonous gas deep underground Monday had wandered into a forbodden area despite warnings, mine officials said.
Wayne Faller, manager of the Barnett shaft of the Ozark Mahoning Fluorspar Co., said mine officials "knew there was a stronger concentration of gas than normal" in the area. He said they had warned the men to stay out of that part of the mine.
But he said that when one of the miners entered the area 800 feet underground, the other six followed in an attempt to rescue him and all were overcome by the deadly hydrogen-sulfide gas.
Five of the victims were pronounced dead when they were lifted from the mine shaft by a hoist. A sixth miner died later Monday in a hospital near Rosiclare. The seventh died early today in the same hospital.
C. W. Sohosky, office manager of the mining firm, said 16 workers were in the shaft 2,000 feet back into the mine when they reached the pocket of gas.
Nine of the men scrambled for clean air when the other's failed to return from the forbidden area, he said.
The miners dead at the scene were identified by the Pope County sheriff's office as:
BILL LONG, 31, of Cave In Rock.
WAYNE LONG, 39, Bill's brother, also of Cave In Rock.
GALE BATES, 45, of Rosiclare.
JERRY JENKINS, 35, of Elizabethtown.
ORVAL HOLBROOK, 47, of Cave In Rock.
RANDALL "JOCK" BELFORD, 34, of Rosiclare died several hours later at Hardin County Hospital.
The seventh miner, JAMES BOB LANE, 42, of Golconda, was in serious condition when removed from the mine and died early this morning. His wife and other members of his family had maintained a vigil outside his room.
Rescue units from the Illinois Department of Mines pumped fresh air into the mine shaft before descending to bring the overcome miners to the surface.
The first miner was brought to the opening shortly after 4:30 p.m. and the last was rescued two hours later as members of the miners' families waited silently near the shaft opening.
A state mining expert, James Litchfield, said any kind of danger from hydrogen-sulfide is rare in mining for fluorspar, a bluish, hard mineral mined like coal and used in the manufacture of aluminum.
Southern Illinois is a leading producer of the mineral.

Alton Evening Telegraph Illinois 1971-04-13