Arrest warrants issued for three people once trapped in West Virginia mine

"It was extremely dangerous and it risked the lives of mine safety workers," sheriff's Lt. M.A. McCray said of the illegal entry.

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By Phil Helsel

A West Virginia sheriff’s office said Friday they have obtained arrest warrants for three people who entered an idled coal mine and were rescued in a days-long effort earlier this month.

The Raleigh County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement that arrest warrants have been obtained for Kayla Williams, Erica Treadway and Cody Beverly “for entering the idled mine near Clear Creek that resulted in them being rescued by mine safety personnel.”

Sheriff’s Lt. M.A. McCray said that the charges are for entering the mine and conspiracy.

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The three people and another man, Eddie Williams Jr., entered the Rock House Powellton mine sometime before they were reported missing Dec. 8. Eddie Williams got out of the mine on his own Dec. 10 and gave authorities the location of the other three, saying they were still alive, officials said.

The sheriff’s office said Thursday that it had arrest warrants for Eddie Williams, who has been charged with entering without breaking, conspiracy and giving false information to law enforcement.

A large rescue effort was launched that involved the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training, as well as the National Guard. Kayla Williams, Treadway and Beverly were rescued on Dec. 12.

A criminal complaint filed against Eddie Williams says he and the other three allegedly went to the mine at around 3 a.m. on Dec. 8 on Beverly's four-wheeler, that Williams initially told law enforcement that Kayla Williams, Beverly and Treadway entered the mine without him, but that he later changed his story and said they went in together to steal copper, according to NBC affiliate WVVA of Bluefield.

"It was extremely dangerous and it risked the lives of mine safety workers," McCray said Friday.

In interviews after their rescue, in which they described their ordeal of being trapped underground in darkness and with no food or water, Beverly and Treadway denied they entered the mine looking for copper and claimed they were exploring.

Beverly said he anticipated criminal charges being filed.

"You can't get away from this scot-free," he said. "I'll go along with it. I'll move along and be a better person for it."

Raleigh County Prosecuting Attorney Kristen Keller said Friday that the charge against Eddie Williams of entering without breaking is a felony and punishable by one to 10 years in prison, conspiracy carries one to five years and a $10,000 fine, and providing false information carries up to six months and a $500 fine.

The mine has been closed for around two years, a source familiar with the mine has said.