One Family talks about halting underground rescue operations in Utah

by Dan Simon
CNN News

From car washes, to donation boxes, a grieving community rallies around its miners and their families.

"It's hard to imagine, something in a small that this could happen," Laura Olivas said.

At the balance rock pub and eatery, waitress Laura Olivas says it's hard to talk or even think about anything else.   She's knows 3 of the trapped miners, and her husband is a miner.

"At first, I wasn't really scared, now you know, thinking of him changing jobs," Olivas said.

But for others, of course, the tragedy is much more personal.

"It's just hard."

Azure Davis' cousin, Kerry Allred, is still stuck in the mine, and another cousin, Dale Black, was one of the rescuers killed Thursday night when a seismic bump caused another part of the mine to collapse, burying him beneath a heap of coal and rock.

Despite his death, she disagrees with stopping the underground rescue.

"I can just imagine being trapped myself and hearing rocks fall and thinking they must be close by. That's got to be really hard," Azure Davis, family member of a miner said.

A sentiment echoed by Davis' friends.

"My biggest fear is that they would stop.   That they would stop looking there's a grandpa out there. Somebody's dad, I'm a daddy's girl, and I know they have families that need them," sonya graff, a friend of the miners said.

"I know if I had the skill to do it, I would go in and dig with my hands because the families need closure, it's not fair to families," Deann Graff, another friend of a miner said.

Mining is still the lifeblood of this central Utah community, but  two miners tell us, the profession is getting too dangerous.   Randy Howell says he retired several years ago, after getting hurt.

"I've been covered I guess I got lucky, I don't know anymore about these mines, did 26 years in mine, my son works in one now, I wish he would go to school do something else, but the money's so good," Randy Howell, a former miner said.

Today many families here are in need of an escape.

The town of helper is going forward with its annual arts festival.

Organizers hope it will bring some smiles, if only for a moment.

This church behind me is where the families of the six trapped miners are getting their daily briefings.

They had been huddled at a school, but had to move because school starts again on Monday.

Life does go on, but the tragedy is never far from the surface.