Ithaca Journal: All 17 trapped Cargill mine workers rescued

Ian Pajer-Rogers |

From the Ithaca Journal:

They huddled together to keep warm. They told each other jokes and stories to keep their spirits up. And after being stranded overnight some 900 feet down a mine shaft, 17 Cargill mine workers were pulled to safety Thursday morning.

Addressing reporters during a press conference following the rescue, Cargill Mine Manager Shawn Wilczynski spoke with relief: "Everybody's out."

"This is really a proud day for a lot of us," he said. "We came to the rescue of ourselves."

The 17 miners, all men ranging in age from their 20s to 60, were just descending down the shaft at the start of a 10 p.m. shift Wednesday, when an as-yet unidentified malfunction stranded the workers, Wilczynski said. They were working a third shift underground production crew.

Officials have no confirmation on what caused the elevator to malfunction, Wilczynski said. An outgoing shift had just used the same elevator about five minutes before the 17 men descended down the shaft.

Cargill intends to perform a full safety check of the elevator once it can be hoisted out of the shaft, according to Wilczynski, who described that process as a "slow and purposeful approach," without a timetable as of Thursday.

He said Cargill will work with the Mine Health and Safety Administration (MSHA) to put together a new safety plan in light of the accident, in addition to performing an inspection the malfunctioned elevator once it is hauled out and replace it if necessary.

Read the full article from the Ithaca Journal.