HUNTINGTON, Emery County They are men with families, hobbies and hometowns, but to the world outside of Huntington, the six men trapped in Crandall Canyon Mine are nameless and faceless, anonymous prisoners to the rock and coal surrounding them.
It's been nearly two days since the men were sealed off in a tunnel deep in the mine, but officials are still declining to issue any information on the miners' identities. Few people know who those men are, but as whispers of information wind through the tight-knit community of Huntington, even fewer people are willing to say what they've heard.
"That's part of the community bonding together to protect them," said Glenda Hansen, who owns one of the town's hair salons. "Yesterday everybody was talking about it, but now it's a protection issue, and it's our responsibility to protect our people and their families. ... They're grieving, they're scared, they're frightened, and people deal with the circumstances differently, and we don't want to get caught off guard."
Family members gathered at Canyon View Junior High School Tuesday, barricaded by a chain-link fence and police officials who prevented non-family members from approaching the facility.
Hansen said she voluntarily delivered food to the family members Monday, but Tuesday she was told that the town's residents would no longer be allowed inside the building for fear that residents would leave the school and talk to members of the media. Instead, the Red Cross is distributing any emergency essentials, Hansen said.
"We know everyone in there (trapped in the mine) one way or another, so it hits us really hard because we're all associated one way or another," Hansen said, hesitant to divulge too much information.
All over town Tuesday, strangers, suspected to be members of the media, were eyed suspiciously when they approached residents. Still, glimpses of the trapped men emerged from the community as residents expressed an overwhelming support for the men and their families.
One woman, who wished to remain unnamed, told of Cary "Flash" Allred, who is reportedly trapped in the mine. Allred is a family man, she said. Another man, who stopped momentarily at the town's gas station, said he heard from an old co-worker that a man with the last name Gonzales is with Allred. Another man said he heard one of the six miners is from Price; another is from nearby Cleveland.
The rumors have spread from household to household with names of who might be trapped. Retired mine workers have called current employees, sons have told fathers, wives have called other wives.
Slowly, the picture is becoming more clear, but still, the men are invisible.
"I know their names," Mayor Hilary Gordon said. "I kind of feel bad that they aren't releasing them, but I assume it's because they don't want the families to be inundated with phone calls."
Gordon, whose desk was littered with fluorescent sticky notes Tuesday, said her phone has been ringing constantly with media requests. At 2 a.m. Tuesday, the phone calls became so bad that she unplugged her phone in an attempt to get some sleep.
Although her phone messages continued to mount Tuesday afternoon, Gordon continued to busy herself with feeding the miners' families the only thing the city could do to help, Gordon said.Comment on this story
Other communities are also getting involved. Castle Dale resident Carolyn Kay said she felt helpless watching the news reports of the families, so she decided to organize a fund-raiser for the families and hung bright green fliers around town to inform residents.Donations are being gathered and delivered to the town's City Hall, and all of the money received will go to the miners' families, Kay said. More information on the fund-raiser can be obtained by calling Huntington City Hall at 801-687-2436.