“Larry is from a large family, a mining family, a family here in the Silver Valley,” said Phil Baker, president and CEO of mine owner Hecla Mining Co. “We have been overwhelmed by the courage of his family and friends, the support of the community and the prayers and messages of support from people around the world.”
Baker said the company is investigating the cause of the collapse and has shut the mine down. There is no word on when it will reopen.
“Words cannot express the deep sorrow we feel at the tragic loss of our friend, colleague and 30-year veteran of the mining industry,” said a statement released April 24 by Hecla. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, loved ones and friends.”
Marek, a 12-year veteran of the company, was one of 275 Hecla employees and 100 contractors who work in the mine. Ten-member rescue squads, rotating in and out over two, 12-hour shifts each day, worked to locate Marek.
“Dozens of federal, state and company officials, miners, mine rescue teams and emergency personnel deserve our utmost gratitude for their efforts to find Larry and return him to his family,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “I can assure you that the Mine Safety and Health Administration, headed by Joseph Main, will conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the roof collapse. Larry's family deserves to have answers, and we will continue our efforts to insist on safety and protection of all workers. No miner should ever have to die for a paycheck.”
This was the first reported fatality at the mine since 1986, the first since 2000 for Hecla Mining Co.