Search halted for suspect in abandoned W.Va. mine

WHARTON, W.Va. (AP) — Crews have halted their search in an abandoned coal West Virginia coal mine for a missing man suspected of stealing copper.

The state Office of Miner’s Health, Safety and Training says in a statement that the three-member search team left the Lightfoot No. 1 Blackhawk Mine near Wharton after encountering unsafe conditions Thursday.

The statement says the man wasn’t located.

Conditions inside an abandoned mine can include toxic levels of gas, roof falls, flooding and other dangers.

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Boone County Chief Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Barker identified the suspect as 38-year-old Wes Blackburn of Oceana. Barker says two others arrested Monday near the mine indicated Blackburn had gone inside. Barker says all three are suspected of stealing copper and have been charged.

Efforts to locate the man above ground were exhausted Wednesday.

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