Lucky Friday miner dies from his injuries

For the second time this year, a miner has died after sustaining injuries while working at Hecla Mining Co.’s Lucky Friday Mine.

Brandon Lloyd Gray, 26, was critically injured Thursday while working at the mine in Mullan, Idaho. He died early Saturday morning.

A second miner injured in the accident was treated at a hospital and released. That miner has not been publicly identified.

Thursday’s accident comes seven months after Mullan mourned the loss of another Lucky Friday miner. In April, Larry “Pete” Marek was killed when his work area caved in and he was buried under a large pile of rocks.

Gray, who had been mining since 2008, was working underground when he was trapped in a broken rock bin that was being excavated as a part of the No. 4 shaft project, according to his employer, Cementation U.S.A. The bin had become plugged, and when miners dislodged the materials Gray was engulfed.

Gray’s family has a long history of mining, said Cementation spokesman Stan Devereux. He was born and raised in Mullan, where he played high school basketball, but most recently lived in Kellogg. He was single and had no children.

“Family members were around him” at the time of his death, Devereux said. “The president of Cementation has been in touch with the family and, understandably, everybody is quite upset about this incident and about this tragic loss.”

Hecla contracted Cementation U.S.A. to carry out the No. 4 shaft work, a $200 million project that will deepen the mine nearly 9,000 feet, and Cementation has been operating at the site since 2009. Hecla officials expect the project to be completed by 2014.

“The whole Cementation family is grieving this terrible loss, and our immediate focus is on supporting Brandon’s family with our assistance and our prayers,” Cementation U.S.A. President Mike Nadon said in a news release.

Following April’s fatal accident, federal investigators said work practices had led to Marek’s death. Hecla was cited for unsafe ground conditions at the Lucky Friday Mine during inspections in May, June and August.

A team of Mine Safety and Health Administration representatives and Cementation U.S.A.’s management group are investigating the most recent accident.

Cementation officials said the miners involved in Thursday’s accident were wearing proper safety gear.


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