Three people missing since last weekend were found alive Wednesday in an underground coal mine in West Virginia, authorities said.
The three were located Wednesday inside Elk Run Coal’s Rock House Powellton mine near Clear Creek, the state Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training said in a statement. The mine was described as nonoperational.
The statement didn’t indicate their conditions. It said crews were working to bring them to the surface. TV news video later showed them emerging from an ambulance and walking into a hospital escorted by law officers and rescue workers.
The Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office had identified them as Kayla Williams, 25, of Artie; Erica Treadway, 31, of Pax; and Cody Beverly, 21, of Dorothy. They’d been missing since Saturday. An abandoned ATV the four were believed to be riding was found near the mine entrance.
The Register-Herald of Beckley reported Wednesday that Williams’ aunt, Sandra Scarbro of Clear Creek, said, “We got our Christmas miracle.”
She added, “All we really know is she’s alive, and we’re so thankful that she’s out and that they’re all out. We appreciate everybody in the community, the governor and rescuers, everything everybody has done.”
Scarbro said Williams was conscious when rescuers found her in the mine.
Williams’ cousin by marriage, Lou Ellen Williams, said the family is “just so happy and relieved.”
“I’m tickled that they’re all OK,” she said. “They said they are battered, but they’re alive. That’s all that matters.”
On Monday night, 43-year-old Eddie Williams of Artie walked out of the mine.
It’s unclear whether Kayla and Eddie Williams are related. It’s also unclear why they were at the mine or what condition they were in.
Crews had used fans to move fresh air into the mine while pumps cleared some standing water inside the mine but the water levels remained too high and hampered search efforts.
According to the mine safety office, coal has not been mined at the underground location for two years.