A lawyer handling two wrongful-death lawsuits says evidence collected so far inside the Upper Big Branch mine could be compromised because of revelations that two Massey Energy managers were underground for nearly four hours after the deadly April 5 blast.
Federal investigators have previously acknowledged the men were underground, but NPR is reporting new details confirmed by Massey. It says the managers traveled nine miles and were near the longwall mining machine considered a possible source of the blast.
Virginia-based Massey Energy also confirms the two managers stayed inside after the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration issued an order to leave. The company insists they were trying to rescue the 29 men who died.
Attorney Mark Moreland said that revelation casts a pall on all the evidence, and the presence of the managers must be investigated.
“This certainly has to be clarified and cleared up completely before the evidence could in any way be interpreted as relieving Massey of fault,” Moreland said.