BOONE COUNTY, W.Va. (WCHS/WVAH) — Members of the West Virginia Mine Rescue Team will be going into a mine Thursday morning in Boone County to help locate a missing man.
Wes Blackburn is being sought by law enforcement. On Wednesday, officers were unsure if he was inside the abandoned mine or not. The decision to search inside the mine was made late Wednesday after ground efforts by law enforcement were exhausted.
“At 9 a.m. this morning, our office will lead a joint effort with Blackhawk Mining to enter the mine and start the exploration process underground for the missing man,” said Eugene White, director of MHST in a news release from the West Virginia Department of Commerce.
The abandoned Blackhawk mine is located near Wharton in Boone County. It was closed in 1998 and has been sealed, the release said.
A team of three individuals will be equipped with full safety apparatus that includes breathing packs, according to officials. The team is made up of two members from the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training and one from Blackhawk Mining.
“When operations cease and a mine is sealed, conditions can deteriorate very quickly,” White said. “Roof falls, toxic levels of gas, flooding and other dangers may exist. We will take every measure possible to ensure the safety of the rescuers entering the mine.”
Samantha Smith, director of marketing and communications for the state Department of Commerce, confirmed Wednesday that one man was arrested after coming out of the mine and was unsure whether a second man, identified by the Boone County Sheriff’s Office as Blackburn, is still in the mine.