Friday, August 31, 2007

Award named for Utahn killed in mine collapse

Award named for Utahn killed in mine collapse
By Matt Canham
The Salt Lake TribuneArticle
Last Updated: 08/31/2007 01:19:10 AM MDT

Aug 31
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Gary Jensen wanted to be here with his fellow mine safety workers. He planned to participate in the national mine rescue competition and catch up with some old friends. But a real-life tragedy at Crandall Canyon in Huntington ended his life just a few weeks before the national gathering. The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) renamed a mine inspection award in his honor. A poster with his image greeted each person as they entered the awards banquet. They prayed for his family and the others touched by mine collapses at Crandall Canyon. Jensen, whom his friends called Gibb, is the first official from the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration to die in a work-related accident in more than 30 years.
Coal and rock shot through the wall supports in the Crandall Canyon mine on Aug. 16, killing Jensen and two other men, Dale Black and Brandon Kimber. Six others were injured. The group was trying to recreate the entrance to Crandall Canyon in the hopes of finding six trapped miners.
Jensen didn't die instantly. He was still conscious when he was taken to the ambulance, according to Kevin Stricklin, MSHA administrator for coal-mining safety. "His comment to us was 'Is anyone else hurt?' " Stricklin told the crowd at the banquet. "That was the last we heard from Gary."
At his
funeral in Salina, family and friends recalled Jensen as a prankster who doted on his grandchildren, loved hunting and rooted for the Oakland Raiders. Jensen, 53, lived in Redmond with his family. Ray Guymon described Jensen as a loyal friend, a man of great integrity and a person dedicated to mine safety.
"His whole life was dedicated to improving safety in the mines," said Guymon, who is one of the leaders of the Energy West mining team, which competed in the national safety competition this week. Energy West operates the Deer Creek mine adjacent to Crandall Canyon. Guymon and his fellow safety team members were some of the first people who responded to the mine collapse. They received four second-place awards in the national competition, including one for first aid and one for the combination of all safety events. They won more awards than any of the 50 teams that competed.
And all of them knew Jensen. Guymon met him decades ago when he was a mine safety engineer for a local outfit. Jensen most recently worked as a roof control specialist. A mine safety company from Glassport, Pa., started a collection at the awards banquet for the family members of Jensen and the others who died at Crandall Canyon. At the end of the night, they raised more than $4,000.
"We have had a lot of tragedies in the last few years. This one touched my heart very strongly," said Ian Houlison, manager of Phoenix First Response. "All we could do is lend a hand fiscally for the families."