Sheriff: Wife finds husband’s body in mine shaft, Utah officials investigating cause of death

Posted at 1:18 PM, Jan 09, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-09 23:17:28-05

WASHINGTON, Utah – Officials said a 70-year-old man found dead in a Warner Valley mine shaft died in an apparent accident.

The Washington County Sheriff’s office said Roy Dale Merrill’s wife found him about 100 feet down the shaft Thursday evening. The mine shaft is located about two mines southeast of Washington Dam road. She and a friend went searching for Merrill when he didn’t return phone calls earlier in the day. They called 9-1-1.

“Witnesses were already trying to provide emergency care and CPR to the victim,” says Sergeant David Crouse. “[Merrill] was later pronounced dead on scene.”

The medical examiner is working to determine the cause of death.

Crouse says there was no obvious sign of trauma, so they’re looking at the possibility is was a medical accident.

“Perhaps a heart attack, or something of that nature,” says Crouse. “He other possibility is carbon monoxide poisoning.”

Crouse Merrill was using a gas water pump to remove standing water from the bottom of the mine shaft, and carbon monoxide could have built up in the narrow shaft.

Deputies say Merrill had been looking for silver and gold in the abandoned mine shaft.