KIMBERLEY, B.C. – The mining community of Kimberly was saddened last week by the deaths of four people at the closed Sullivan mine. The mine is owned by TECK COMINCO of Vancouver and operated for 92 years until reserves were exhausted in 2001. The mine is closed, but mine water is still pumped and treated as part of the long-term closure plan.
The deaths occurred in the shed where water seeping from an adjacent waste rock pile is sampled. A contractor’s employee checking on the system failed to return home the evening of May 17. The body of Douglas Erickson was found the next morning by Robert Newcombe, a Teck Cominco employee. Newcombe called paramedics, and when Kim Weitzel and Shawn Currier arrived he led them back into the shed. The three would-be rescuers also died when they were overcome by what was initially suspected to be hydrogen sulphide gas.
The bodies were eventually recovered by members of the Kimberley fire department wearing breathing apparatus.
Teck Cominco president Don Lindsay immediately extended sympathies to the families and friends of the victims. “Teck Cominco joins with the community of Kimberley in mourning this tragic loss of life,” he said. “We share the profound sadness of their loss.”
British Columbia’s chief mine inspector, Fred Hermann, is leading the investigation with which Teck Cominco is co-operating. Check the B.C. Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources site at www.gov.bc.ca for additional news.