Officials release new information about recovery efforts for trapped miner

UPDATE: MEMA’s Greg Flynn told WJTV that Emmitt Shorter’s body has been located but he has not been recovered from the Crystal Springs gravel pit. Crews are coming in to assist with Shorter’s recovery.


CRYSTAL SPRINGS, Miss. (WJTV) – Officials confirm a man was recovered at the collapsed gravel pit in Copiah County at a news conference Friday afternoon.

That gravel pit collapsed more than a week ago.

The Copiah County Coroner has confirmed James “Dee” Hemphill was the worker found early Thursday, June 9, 2016.

Officials announced they are now using a cadaver dog to find Emmitt Shorter.

Emmitt Shorter & Dee Hemphill
Emmitt Shorter & Dee Hemphill


Officials shared that a dam was breached, sending a rush of water into the gravel pit area.

That created 100,000 tons of sludge, burying the men almost instantly.

Crews are hoping the cadaver dog can pick up the scent of Shorter.

All crews continue around the clock effort to clear away as much of the material as safely as they can.

They’re also still exploring ideas like ground penetrating radar to recover Shorter.

Officials say there’s no timeframe right now because there’s a lot of area to search as they believe Shorter could be anywhere inside the pit.

“Right now, we know the piece of equipment coming in but we don’t know all the details on the equipment. Generally, know how much material is in the pit that’s going to have to be moved. We just have to know what the capacity of the equipment that’s going to come in,” said Mike Davis, the South Central District Manager for Mine Safety and Health Administration.

For now, crews have stopped digging by hand, but pumps are still being used to move some of the sludge and slurry from the pit.

WJTV was told the investigation into what caused this collapse will not start until the Emmitt Shorter is recovered.

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