Man dies in mine shaft at Warner Valley

Stock photo, does not depict the actual mine shaft in the report | St. George News

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.

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  • ladybugavenger January 9, 2015 at 9:56 am

    Prayers for the family.

  • Null January 9, 2015 at 10:28 am

    I heard this call when it came in. Please remember that no mine is a safe place to be around, not matter what age you are. My heart goes out to the family.

  • Old Prospector January 9, 2015 at 10:40 am

    Yes, this is sad, and my heart goes out to his family. But remember he passed, while doing something he loved to do.

    • Evil Twins Mommy January 9, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      So just because somebody died while doing something they liked made it a happy death….. That is without a doubt one of the stupidest comments I’ve ever heard

      • Angyll January 9, 2015 at 10:27 pm

        Death is death. Would you prefer we said OHHHH GOD! WHY? WHY? WHY? Would you prefer he suffered? The comment was made because in the hours before his death he was a happy man. Your a …; Troll.
        Ed. ellipsis.

      • Dr. Meyers January 10, 2015 at 7:40 pm

        You have no life.

    • U know January 9, 2015 at 7:32 pm

      That was the best reply, what better way to go.. If it’s something you love to do…. When it’s your time, it’s your time.

      • Bender January 10, 2015 at 1:15 am

        “When it’s your time, it’s your time.”
        I’ll never understand how rational people can babble this phrase.

  • sagemoon January 9, 2015 at 11:26 am

    I hope his last moments were filled with the pleasure of an activity he loved. Condolences.

  • A Prospector's Wife January 9, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    That is always my biggest fear when I can’t reach my husband on his cell. Mrs. MerrilI, I am truly sorry for your loss and my thoughts and prayers will be for you and your family.

  • asianspa January 9, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    Passed doing what you loved to do is the dumbest thing to say after someone dies… so he loved dieing while fumbling around in a mine? It would be nice if people could say words of actual comfort rather than spout cliches.

    • Angyll January 9, 2015 at 10:28 pm

      And what exactly would your cynical, jaded, words of comfort be?

  • BunnyRabbit2015 January 9, 2015 at 6:18 pm

    People go into mine shafts all the time and nothing happens to them.

  • stupidpplcomments January 9, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    I sure as heck would rather died doing something I enjoyed than at work or any other place. At least these people commenting were not trying to tear others down. Get a life people!!!! Seriously….

  • Devan January 9, 2015 at 11:25 pm

    My condolences go out to those that lost a good friend, neighbor, and family member today :’ (

  • Bender January 10, 2015 at 1:13 am

    Bummer. May have been either Carbon monoxide poisoning from the pump or suffocation from pooled carbon dioxide. Many dangers in old mines.

    • koolaid January 10, 2015 at 9:23 am

      That’s why they are closed off with no trespassing signs posted by them. There is a reason they were called widow makers

  • ScanMeister January 10, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    It would be nice if SG News would indicate a photo used is a stock photo or is an actual photo of the story site. This mine banner photo is not actual but canned. Suggestion for the SG News staff.

    • Joyce Kuzmanic January 11, 2015 at 6:00 am

      I agree with you, ScanMeister, and have added that caption. Thank you for calling it to my attention.
      Joyce Kuzmanic
      Editor in Chief

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