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Landslide in Quarry Buries Two Miners

October 3, 1987

LONSDALE, Ark. (AP) _ A boulder broke loose from the wall of a quarry Friday, starting a landslide that killed at least one miner and probably two, authorities said.

One man’s body was recovered, but the other was thought to be under more than 1 million pounds of rock, said Dr. William R. Mashburn, Garland County coroner.

The two were among five men working at an open-pit silica mine operated by the Malvern Minerals Co., according to Russell Brown of Garrett Excavating Co. The other three miners were uninjured.

Mashburn identified the man whose body was recovered as Phillip Leroy Keeton, 65, of Hot Springs. His body was found about noon, less than an hour after the landslide. Work was continuing into the night, under lights, to recover the second body.

Authorities wouldn’t identify the missing man but Alice Gilbert of Murfreesboro said it was her brother, Billy Williams, 49, of near Fort Smith.

Mrs. Gilbert and her husband, Earl, kept a vigil at the entrance of the service road leading to the quarry. ″I’m going to stay here until they take him out because if he knew I was here, he would have crawled out,″ she said. ″He’s that devoted.″

She said her family had been in mining for 23 years. ″This is something you come to expect,″ Mrs. Gilbert said. ″When it’s your day, it’s your day. And this was his day.″

Sgt. Larry Selig of the Garland County Sheriff’s Department said 1.4 million pounds of rock and rubble lay atop Williams’ body.

″It’s really a big gravel pit ... and this one big rock came loose way up high,″ said sheriff’s Capt. Norman Hall.

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