WASHINGTON COUNTY – At approximately 7:15 p.m. Thursday, the St. George Communication Center received a 911 call of an unresponsive man in the Warner Valley area southeast of Washington City. Emergency personnel from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Hurricane Fire Department were dispatched to an abandoned mine shaft in the area and located the man and witnesses with the assistance of the Life Flight helicopter out of Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George.
Due to the remote location of the incident, the initial responding deputy arrived on scene at approximately 7:35 p.m.
Witnesses on scene were able to direct the first responders to the location of a 70-year-old man who was approximately 100 feet down a mine shaft, a statement released by the Sheriff’s Office said. The man was unresponsive and witnesses on scene were already performing CPR. Paramedics arrived on scene shortly after and pronounced the subject dead.
The victim has been identified as Roy Dale Merrill of Washington.
Merrill was reported to have spoken with family at approximately 12:38 p.m., the Sheriff’s Office statement said, at which time he reported he was near a mine shaft south of the Washington Dam Road looking for silver or gold.
At 5:18 p.m. the victim’s wife tried to contact him by cellular phone, but was unsuccessful, the Sheriff’s Office statement said. After approximately one hour, the victim’s wife contacted a family friend who took her to the mine location. There they found Merrill unresponsive. They immediately called 911 and began CPR.
Merrill was reported to have been using a water pump to remove standing water from the bottom of the mine shaft, the statement said.
Detectives are working with the Utah Medical Examiner’s Office to determine an official cause of death.
This report is based on preliminary information provided by law enforcement or other emergency responders and may not contain the full scope of findings.