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Supervisor Died Trying to Save Miner from Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

David Jones

New details are emerging about the two men who were killed after inhaling high levels of carbon monoxide at the Revenue-Virginius Mine in Ouray County.

The Denver Post reports that after 33-year-old Nicholas Cappanno entered the mine Sunday morning and was overcome by carbon monoxide gases, Shift Supervisor Rick Williams went underground to look for him. Both men were overcome by the gases and pronounced dead after being brought to the surface by a crew of twenty miners. 

That crew was also sickened and brought to area hospitals, where they were treated and all released by Monday afternoon.

As the Post reports, Cappanno had only been on the job about two weeks, having recently relocated from Rifle where he was working an oil field job. Williams was a US Air Force Veteran with two grandchildren who had spent most of his life in the San Juan Mountains. 

Cappanno's brother Eric Keep had these words for the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel: 

"He worked in the gas patch for years, but that would take him away from his family for too long," said Keep, who also lives in Montrose. "When the new mine opened, it gave him the chance to be closer to home. He was a real family person."

The investigation into what caused the release of carbon monoxide in the mine is now in the hands of Mine Safety & Health Administration authorities, who will be investigating the incident.

But Rory Williams, manager for the Denver-based Star Mine Operations, previously told reporters an intentional blast on Saturday night might have released the gases.

Williams added such blasts are a commong mining practice used alongside drilling to open up rock for extracting minerals. 

Mine Safety and Health Spokeswoman Amy Louviere has told KVNF authorities will begin their investigation as soon as they can confirm the mine has been properly ventilated of all the dangerous gases, and that the mine is safe to re-enter. 

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