Criminal charges apparently won't be filed against a mine owner whose diggings were the focus of a rescue effort triggered by the bogus report of a man trapped in a cave in earlier this week.
Duchesne County Attorney Herb Gillespie said that a review of preliminary reports concerning the incident, which police believe was a hoax, indicates there are no grounds to pursue a criminal complaint.The county will, however, seek to have the owner pay all costs associated with the unnecessary rescue effort.
Rescue workers spent 12 hours digging through rock and shale at a mine site some 15 miles northeast of Tabiona after receiving reports that a man had been trapped following a mine cave in. The crew dug by hand for nearly six hours before heavy equipment could be brought into the remote site.
Sheriff Clair Poulson has estimated the cost at more than $4,000.
Mine owner Barney Powell, 80, who has been working claims in the area for more than 50 years will be held responsible. Powell reportedly hired three transients to work at the site located near the top of Blind Stream Canyon. The three were apparently investigating what appeared to be an old mine shaft. Two of the men crossed the crest of the hill to look for another exit to the shaft when the cave in occurred. The two apparently thought the third man was inside.
Sheriff's officials now believe the third man ran away when the cave-in occurred, fearing he would be blamed for the incident.