Father killed in mine gas trap left a family behind

SAD LOSS: Electrician Paul McGuire.
SAD LOSS: Electrician Paul McGuire. Tony Martin

A MINER, killed when he was caught in a suspected gas pocket at Grasstree Mine, has left behind his wife Melissa and two daughters, Eva and Isabel.

The 34-year-old electrician, named as Paul McGuire, was unable to be resuscitated on Tuesday afternoon after succumbing to noxious fumes underground at the Anglo American operation.

He had allegedly been doing gas calibrations at the time.

Shocked Grasstree co-workers have banded together to donate a day of their pay to Mr McGuire's grieving family.

To some of his mates he was known as "Jerry" McGuire after the Tom Cruise character in the hit movie and because he loved his footy.

Mr McGuire, originally from Julia Creek, was one of the guiding forces behind the Battle of the Mines, an annual grudge match between coal operations in the Central Highlands that attracted the likes of former State of Origin star PJ Marsh.

"That's how most of us knew him, as Jerry," a friend said. "Just like the movie, he loved being the 'player manager' behind the scenes."

Operations at the mine were temporarily suspended on Tuesday and all underground workers ordered to the surface after the death.

Union meetings were held to debrief and counsel workers.

An Anglo American spokesperson said the mine staff were working with the police and State Government Mines Inspectorate to conduct a "thorough investigation into why this fatality occurred".

"Investigations are continuing, but it is believed the incident may have occurred when Mr McGuire entered an area of the mine in which there was an irrespirable atmosphere," the spokesperson said.

"An exact cause is still to be determined."

The mine, which had been setting production records in recent months, re-opened yesterday.

It is the first underground fatality in seven years in the Bowen Basin.

Former Blackwater miner Jason Blee died at Anglo Coal's Moranbah North Mine when he was crushed by a continuous miner.

In 2012, an investigation was launched when a man arm's was fractured after being caught in a ventilation door at the Grasstree Mine.

Topics:  death gas grasstree mine mining tragedy

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