A look back at the tragedy at Green Brothers Gravel Pit - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

A look back at the tragedy at Green Brothers Gravel Pit

CRYSTAL SPRINGS, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

On Friday June 3,  tragedy struck at a Crystal Springs Gravel pit when a landslide trapped two workers; launching search and recovery efforts that lasted eight days.

It involved the Mine Safety and Health Administration, MEMA , pit owners and hundreds of responders and volunteers from across the state.

Around 11:30 on the morning of the third, two men were trapped inside their equipment at the Green Brothers Gravel pit.

"No timetable in this obviously, but as soon as they can get that settled we're gonna try to recover the two male employees and the equipment," said MEMA Spokesman Ray Coleman on the initial day of the search.

Over the weekend, frustration grew among family and volunteers who wanted to go into the pit and recover the workers.

A road was built to transport an industrial crane that was brought in, but that approach proved unsuccessful.

Still more waiting as mine owners and the Mine Safety and Health Administration formulated strategies.

Family members identified the gravel workers as Emmitt Shorter and James Dee Hemphill.

"I feel like it's taking too long. Especially with something like this. You should have an emergency procedure," said Shorter's cousin Cordiesha Stringer.

"Friday his biggest fear came true," said Hemphill's stepdaughter Amie Granger.

Monday June 6, MEMA officials began pumping water, mud and sludge from the gravel pit.

Governor Phil Bryant and other officials addressed the media.

"In the history of mining and quarry operations in the United States, this is an unprecedented event," said MEMA Executive Director Lee Smithson.

Monday evening, Crystal Springs residents gathered at the railroad park to pray for a miracle.

At approximately 8:30 Tuesday night, crews uncovered a cab of one of the trapped vehicles, but still no sign of the workers.

Finally, Thursday, around 1:30 a.m., James "Dee" Hemphill's body was found inside the cab of an excavator.

The search party dug with their hands for five hours to free him. 

About 20 hours later, around 10 p.m. Friday, relatives confirmed that Emmitt Shorter's body was found outside his truck mired in slurry.

Shorter's body was recovered around 6:50 a.m. Saturday.

Mine Safety and Health Administration officials say it all began when a dam above the gravel pit, holding back water from a pond, broke, sending all the water and mud onto Shorter and Hemphill.

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