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Front Page » October 16, 2007 » Opinion » Letter to the Editor: the true story
Published 2,529 days ago

Letter to the Editor: the true story


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By SANDRA SZOPA
Hooper

Editor:

I am writing this letter because, unfortunately, I have not yet read or seen a news story that presented the true succession of events related to the Crandall Canyon mine disaster.

I have only seen a one-sided, biased judgment against Mr. Robert Murray and UtahAmerican Energy, Inc.

I wanted to share my experience as a person who lived first hand, day in and day out, the tragic events that transpired in Huntington and more specifically, the Crandall Canyon mine.

I was assigned as an independent contractor to provide translation for the press releases and interpreting for the officials that spoke to the families on a daily basis. Throughout these days and weeks consumed with fear, trauma, and grief, I learned to be much more than an interpreter. I learned about courage, strength and bonding amongst perfect strangers.

The one thing that stands out most for me is the realization that all people react differently in times of pain and suffering.

During the rescue operation, as I was working with the families, I was moved by the amount of support staff that was provided by UtahAmerican Energy in order to help everyone affected. Not only did Mr. Robert Murray provide a translator to ensure the Hispanic families were receiving accurate information, he personally asked me to support them and serve as their liaison.

In all my years of experience as an interpreter and translator, I have never seen a company (much less a CEO) demonstrate such strong support to employees and their families in a time of tragedy, conflict and blame. Generally, you will never see the executives of a company once the "event" has occurred. Mr. Robert Murray was there for three weeks and two days, he never left.

I will never forget one of the family briefings that I interpreted when Mr. Murray sat next to me while someone else was speaking. I told him, "Mr. Murray, you look tired and need a break." He whispered to me, "I will not stop until I have extinguished all resources."

I am aware that Mr. Murray spent day and night at the Crandall Canyon mine with very little sleep or down time. I also know that he, along with others, entered the mine when the second collapse occurred. Mr. Murray did not hesitate to go in himself, putting his own safety at risk, in order to dig out those rescue miners.

How many companies show that much dedication and care during a disaster?

I have learned a lot about mining and specifically, the Crandall Canyon mine in my time working as a contracted interpreter and watching all of the mine experts that came to speak to the families.

I feel compelled to tell people that my personal belief is that all resources and avenues to rescue the miners were explored and discussed with the families. I know as an interpreter and translator that information was repeated, demonstrated, and shown via visual aids at every family briefing.


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