August 6, 2010 – A government employee working for the Division of Gas, Oil, and Mining (DOGM) allegedly sabotaged efforts to search a breached mine for clues into Susan Cox Powell’s disappearance after the West Valley City Police Department (WVCPD) alerted him of the search.
Part 1 – Part 2 – Part 3 – Part 4
Corey Shuman, President of Gold Mine Expeditions, contacted the DOGM to complain about the slanderous statements made by the DOGM employee to the landowner. A conference call between the parties was organized.
The conference call was placed Wed., August 4 at 1 p.m. by Dana Dean, the Assistant Director of DOGM.
Also on the call for DOGM were John Baza, Director of DOGM, and Luci Malin, Director of Utah’s Abandoned Mine Reclamation Program (UAMRP).
Representatives of the Susan Cox Powell search effort included Jeremiah Chesley for MU, Corey Shuman, President of GRE, Linda Osborne for the Susan Cox Powell search effort, and attorney Russ Hartill who provided office space for the call in Sandy, Utah.
Hartill represents both Gold Rush Expeditions and Mojave Underground in their individual capacities as mine exploration groups.
“The conference call was in response to actions taken by an employee within DOGM that appeared to have the effect of discouraging private landowners from cooperating with GRE, MU, and the Susan Cox Powell search effort,” Hartill said.
According to Linda Osborne, DOGM’s Dana Dean apologized for the DOGM employee’s actions that created an atmosphere that resulted in one landowner revoking permission to search his mine.
The intent of the search group was to lower a camera into the mine. When asked if this was legal, Hartill said Luci admitted this would NOT be in violation of Utah law.
Hartill said, “I am at a bit of a loss as to why a DOGM employee would so characterize our coalition of volunteers (who are merely trying to help give the Powell family and friends some closure) as partygoers.”
Shuman said, “It is unfortunate the DOGM employee acted recklessly of his own accord without the backing of the DOGM.”
Mr. Baza, DOGM Director, indicated he wished to continue better communication between the parties and Dana assured GRE, MU, and Linda that what transpired in this case would not happen again.
DOGM agreed if they are contacted by law enforcement in future mine searches for Susan, they will refer them back to the involved parties.
“We came out of the phone call encouraged and with the felling we are back on track in assisting the Susan Cox Powell search effort,” Hartill said.
Linda stated she would attempt to contact the landowner of the original, breached mine, to see if they can work together to have the mine searched.
Hartill stressed that both GRE and MU have members with unique sets of technical experience in examining old mines.
Hundreds of mines in Utah are scheduled to be backfilled beginning August 15, 2010. Attorney Hartill said the backfilling process creates a “permanent airtight closure.” Click here for Part 3, “Backfilling to begin August 15”.
Part 1 – Search efforts thwarted
Part 2 – Conference call
Part 3 – Backfilling mines: How it can hinder search for Susan
Part 4 – Details of what transpired between search group and government agencies
Susan Cox Powell, reported missing Dec. 7, 2009
Susan is the 28-year-old mother of two who disappeared from her West Valley City home in Utah. Her husband, Josh Powell, remains the only person of interest in what police call a missing person’s case with suspicious criminal overtones.
Within a month of Susan’s disappearance, Josh moved to their hometown of Puyallup, Washington, where he currently resides with his father, siblings, and two young sons.
Josh told police and media that just after Susan went to bed on Sun., Dec. 6, he took their two young sons, then ages 2 and 4, on an overnight camping trip.
It was snowing that night and temperatures were subfreezing. He claims he forgot what day it was and that he went camping because he and his boys liked to do S’Mores. He said when he returned the following day his wife had disappeared and he didn’t know where she was.
His story has been largely criticized and disbelieved.