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UPDATE: Search suspended at Upper Big Branch Mine

(WSAZ)
Published: Jun. 8, 2016 at 9:50 PM EDT
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UPDATE 6/11/16 @ 6:25 p.m.

MONTCOAL, W.Va.(MetroNews) — Alpha Natural Resources suspended the search for a man believed to be lost in the Upper Big Branch Mine near the Raleigh-Boone County border. Alpha’s mine rescue team spent two days searching the vast underground operation which was sealed up permanently in 2012 after the 2010 explosion which killed 29 men.

They were looking for David Lee Adkins of Bloomingrose who had allegedly broken through the seal and entered the mine with at least three other men looking to steal copper wire.

Alpha officials released this statement Friday:

“Over the course of two days, and in concert with state and federal regulatory authorities, an exhaustive underground search was conducted of every accessible area from multiple entry points into the mine. The alleged trespasser was not found. After discussion with authorities, agreement has been reached to conclude the underground search. Security personnel will be posted at mine access points over the coming days as an added safety precaution. We will continue cooperating with law enforcement’s ongoing investigation.”

Adkins was reported missing by his wife who told investigators her husband and the others had gone into the mine to pilfer the leftover copper.

Troopers arrested a second man in connection with the break in Friday. Everett Adkins was charged with breaking an entering. Earlier in the week troopers charged William Bennett with the same crime. Bennett told investigators he had been with Adkins inside the mine, but the two got separated around 2:30 a.m. on Tuesday.

UPDATE 6/10/16 @ 4:17 p.m.

RALEIGH COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A second arrest has been made in the investigation of the break ins at the Upper Big Branch mine.

According to West Virginia State Police, Everett Adkins has been arrested for his role in breaking into the mine.

State police arrested William Bennett, 32, on Wednesday on a charge of breaking and entering into the UBB mine. Troopers are still looking for another man who was involved.

David Lee Adkins has still not been located, according to WVSP.

According to West Virginia State Police, Adkins was reported missing by his wife. She told investigators that Adkins and at least three other men were stealing copper from inside the Upper Big Branch mine.

Investigators say Bennett told State Police that he had been with David Adkins inside the mine, and last saw him around 2:30 Tuesday morning, before they became separated.

It is not known where Adkins currently may be, or if he ever exited the mine.

Alpha Natural Resources, who purchased the mine from Massey Energy, tells WSAZ they are cooperating with law enforcement and MSHA officials, and that a search is underway for Adkins.

An explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in April, 2010 killed 29 coal miners. The mine was permanently closed in 2012.

Anyone with information about Adkins is asked to call the Whitesville State Police Detachment at (304) 854-0101.


UPDATE 6/9/16 @ 6:15 p.m.

RALEIGH COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) – A mine rescue team is searching inside the Upper Big Branch mine for a man who has not been seen since early Tuesday morning.

According to West Virginia State Police, David Lee Adkins was reported missing by his wife. She told investigators that Adkins and at least three other men were stealing copper from inside the Upper Big Branch mine.

State police arrested William Bennett, 32, on Wednesday on a charge of breaking and entering into the UBB mine. According to investigators, Bennett told State Police that he had been with David Adkins inside the mine, and last saw him around 2:30 Tuesday morning, before they became separated.

It is not known where Adkins currently may be, or if he ever exited the mine.

Alpha Natural Resources, who purchased the mine from Massey Energy, tells WSAZ they are cooperating with law enforcement and MSHA officials, and that a search is underway for Adkins.

An explosion at the Upper Big Branch mine in April, 2010 killed 29 coal miners. The mine was permanently closed in 2012.

Anyone with information about Adkins is asked to call the Whitesville State Police Detachment at (304) 854-0101.


UPDATE 6/8/16 @ 11:45 p.m.

WHITESVSVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- West Virginia State Police are working with Alpha Natural Resources to have a mine rescue team search Upper Big Branch mine.

According to a release, David Lee Adkins was reported missing by his wife to the Whitesville Police Department. His wife told police that he and at least three other men had been stealing copper from within the Upper Big Branch Mine.

Adkins was last seen about 2:20 a.m. Tuesday, June 7.

On Wednesday, WVSP arrested William Bennett on a breaking and entering charge into the UBB mine. According to the release, Bennett confirmed that he had been with David Adkins inside the mine on June 7 and last saw him at 2:30 a.m. before they became separated.

WVSP says Adkins whereabouts are unknown, and it is uncertain if he ever exited the mine.

The Upper Big Branch Mine was permanently closed in 2012, two years after a fatal explosion killed 29 miners there in April 2010.

Alpha Natural Resources bought the mine from Massey Energy after the explosion.

Wednesday night, the company released this statement to WSAZ:

"We have been informed by state police of several trespassers on the property of the sealed Upper Big Branch mine. We are currently cooperating with law enforcement, WVOMHST, and MSHA to investigate the matter. We have no further comment at this time."

Anyone with information about Adkins is asked to call the Whitesville State Police Detachment at (304) 854-0101.


ORIGINAL STORY 6/8/16 @ 9:58 p.m.

WHITESVILLE, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- West Virginia State Police are investigating a break-in at the Upper Big Branch Mine.

Troopers say the incident happened Tuesday.

The Upper Big Branch Mine was permanently closed in 2012, two years after a fatal explosion killed 29 miners there in April 2010.

Alpha Natural Resources bought the mine from Massey Energy after the explosion.

Wednesday night, the company released this statement to WSAZ:

"We have been informed by state police of several trespassers on the property of the sealed Upper Big Branch mine. We are currently cooperating with law enforcement, WVOMHST, and MSHA to investigate the matter. We have no further comment at this time."

No other information is available at this time.

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