Worker killed in Ga. limestone mine collapse

/ Source: The Associated Press

A mine worker died Friday in a collapse about two miles deep in a limestone mine in north Georgia, authorities said.

Emergency crews recovered the body of Tony Allen Cruse, 45, about seven and a half hours after the collapse Friday at the Ellijay Mine of Carmeuse Lime & Stone, said Lt. Frank Copeland of the Gilmer County Sheriff's Department.

The cause of the collapse, which happened around 10 a.m. EDT, was not immediately known.

The company and the Mine Safety and Health Administration are investigating.

"We at Carmeuse Lime & Stone are saddened by the death and express our heartfelt prayers and thoughts to the family and loved ones of the deceased," Carmeuse said in a press release.

Copeland said the mine, known locally as the Talona Mine, produces crushed stone about two miles south of Ellijay.

Kevin J. Whyte, Carmeuse vice president and general counsel, said Cruse had been with the company for eight years. Whyte said he was a scaler operator, working a piece of heavy machinery that scales rock back from the mine walls.

He did not know if other workers were near the collapse. But he said there are 23 hourly employees working two shifts, so there would not have been more than about 10 others in the mine at the time.

Whyte said the mine and other properties were bought from Oglebay Norton Co. in February. He did not know of any other previous collapses at Ellijay.

Whyte and senior vice president Philip Johnson said that there have been no fatalities at other company mines, and that collapses like the one Friday are rare.

The Ellijay mine stone is ground fine and mixed with latex for carpet backing. Northwest Georgia is one of the major carpet and flooring centers in the world.

Gilmer County is a mountainous area, with the county seat about 60 miles north of Atlanta.