Family of Columbus man killed in mine breaks silence - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Family of Columbus man killed in mine breaks silence

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COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) -

The family of a Columbus man killed in a mining accident breaks their silence.

A couple of weeks ago, a 53-year-old father of three was crushed to death while working at a mine in Talbot County.

The family spoke exclusively with News Leader 9 about the loss of their loved one. They say getting through the holidays has been tough.

"He loved his job. He would always talk about how he had to go to work," Nicole Barnes says, remembering her father.

On Dec. 13 her father, Paul Barnes, left his home on Viking Dr. in Columbus. Barnes headed to work at a sand and gravel mine in Talbot County.

"It was a regular day. Everyone was like 'It's Friday the 13th be careful because of all the superstition,'" Nicole recalls.

Authorities report Barnes was standing near the edge of a 27 ft bank when it suddenly collapsed.

"I automatically just panicked. After it sunk in, I broke down. That's my dad. I was heartbroken," Nicole says.

Buried 15 ft below the earth's surface, Barnes reportedly suffocated after being engulfed by sand.

He's the 21st person to die in metal and nonmetal mining this year, according to federal reports.

"Being that he was not here for Christmas and it was our first Christmas without my dad. It was hard. We had a couple of breakdowns but we're pretty much holding up," says Nicole.

Now, the family must hold on to each other and cherished memories.

"Bass fish, cat fish, any type of fish, he loved to fish. No matter where we were or what we were doing, that was all he wanted to do, was fish."

The Mine Safety and Health Administration reports there have been 21 fatalities reported this year in metal and nonmetal mining.

Barnes' family says the company he worked for Brown Brothers Sand Company has called to express their condolences.

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