Family continues search for missing Wyoming County man

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11:00 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 UPDATE:  A heartbroken Joanne Short remembers the last time she saw her son, Wes Blackburn.

“He sat down and ate,” Short said. “He had waved bye, said ‘I love you,’ and I haven’t seen him since.  I think they should try to help me find him.”

The 38-year-old was last seen in Boone County on November 26, 2018, when he reportedly headed into the Wells Complex in Wharton. The following Thursday, rescuers were unsuccessful in locating Blackwell. 

With search efforts underway in Raleigh County’s Rock House Powellton mine, his mother said she refuses to accept this news.

“Governor Justice, what is the difference in my son and the other kids?” Short asked. “I pray they find those kids alive. But I think my kid needs to be brought out of that mine also.”

It is especially painful for Blackburn’s 14-year-old son, Cody, who does not understand what truly happened to his father.

“[Cody’s] constantly asking if something happened to him, if they’re going to find him,” Short said.  “We’ve all been out searching, and nothing.”

In a case of many unanswered questions, all the family wants is closure.

“Regardless on how they find him, I want to bring him home,” Short said.

The family is raising money for a reward, which will go to anyone with information on Blackburn’s whereabouts.

9:30 a.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2018 UPDATE:  The family of a missing Wyoming County man who was last seen on Nov. 25, 2018 is still searching for their loved one.  Wes Blackburn has been missing for more than two weeks.

A mine rescue crew from the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training went into the Blackhawk Mine on Nov. 29 to search for Blackburn.  They were unable to find him after spending the day searching.

Family members are working to collect money to offer a reward to find him.  Anyone with information on Blackburn’s location is asked to contact West Virginia State Police at 304-369-7800.

UPDATE: A mine rescue team of three men has returned from a search for a Wyoming County man empty handed.  The men from the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training (MHS&T) and Blackhawk Mining went into the mine at 9 a.m.

They were searching the mine for Wes Blackburn.  Upon returning from the search they stated the conditions inside the mine were especially dangerous.   Authorities are still investigating where Blackburn could be.

9 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018 UPDATE: On Thursday, Nov. 29, 2018 the West Virginia Office of Miner’s Health Safety and Training (MHS&T) announced they will be mobilizing members of their Mine Rescue Team.  The group will be headed into the Blackhawk Mine in Boone County to search for Wes Blackburn who has been missing since Sunday.

“At 9 a.m. this morning, our office will lead a joint effort with Blackhawk Mining to enter the mine and start the exploration process underground for the missing man,” said Eugene White, Director of MHS&T.

The team of three rescuers will be made of of two people from MHS&T and one person from Blackhawk Mining.  Maps of the mine have been reviewed, but the mine has been sealed since 1998 and conditions inside are unknown.

“When operations cease and a mine is sealed, conditions can deteriorate very quickly,” said White.  “Roof falls, toxic levels of gas, flooding and other dangers may exist.  We will take every measure possible to ensure the safety of the rescuers entering the mine.

The decision to search underground was made late on Wednesday.  It came after efforts to find Blackburn above ground were exhausted.

ORIGINAL: Authorities are looking for a missing man who may be in a mine in Boone County.

Samantha Smith, the Director of Marketing and Communications for the West Virginia Department of Commerce, says the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training is coordinating with the Boone County Sheriff, WV State Police and Blackhawk Mine officials to locate the man.

She says officials are currently working to exhaust all possibilities that exist above ground to locate the individual before making the decision to go into the mine, located in Wharton, WV. 

The man’s mother says Wes Blackburn, 38, has been missing since Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018.

She says Blackburn was last seen entering the Wells Complex Mine by a friend. The friend turned himself in and was arrested because it was too cold. The friend told police that Blackburn went back into the mine.

According to Blackburn’s mother, the friend told police they entered the mine to steal copper. 

Smith confirms one man has exited the mine and was taken into custody.  The West Virginia Mine Rescue Team has not been activated at this time. 

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