November 22nd, 2010
12:31 PM ET

Trapped New Zealand miner, 17, was on job for one hour

Joseph Dunbar had celebrated his 17th birthday, local media reported.

One of the 29 people trapped in a New Zealand coal mine is a teenage boy who’d only been on the job for an hour when an explosion rocked the mine.

Joseph Dunbar had celebrated his 17th birthday last Thursday, according to news reports from New Zealand.

His mother, Philippa Timms, told the New Zealand Herald that she and her son had recently moved to the area on New Zealand’s southern island to get a fresh start in life.

"We moved here for Joseph, to give him a different life, a better life," the Herald quoted her as saying. Her son’s top goal soon became getting a job at the mine, she said.

"It was a turning point in his life, he was going a little bit wayward... He got offered this chance to have a career, and that's how he saw it," a story on the TVNZ website quotes her as saying.

The teen was supposed to start his new job on Monday, but he went into the mine for a get-acquainted tour on Friday and then asked to hang around for the rest of the shift, according to news reports.

"He wanted to stay there and see how everything operated. He just wanted to be part of it," Gary Campbell, Philippa Timms partner, told TVNZ.

An explosion rocked the Pike River mine around 4 p.m. on Friday. No one has heard from the miners since. Toxic gas was lingering and hampering rescue efforts. Rescuers were hoping to get a robot into the mine soon.

Timms told the Herald her son had worked at a supermarket but wanted the career mining offered.

"It meant everything. He set himself a goal, and achieving that goal meant everything to him. It meant he was going to travel with the company, take him different places. He was absolutely stoked. He was excited, he was ecstatic," the Herald quoted her as saying.

Timms said he son had spent his birthday on Thursday with her, going out shopping and to dinner, and then rejecting his friends’ calls for a night out to stay home and prepare for work.

"His mates wanted him to go out that night, but he said, 'I'm staying in. I have work in the morning'. He was so chuffed," his mother said.

Timms said she hasn’t given up hope her son and the other 28 miners will be found alive, but she’s preparing for the worst.

“When I saw the shaft bent over the way it was with all the black I just thought ‘nah’. Because of my understanding of it... I knew that it was a pretty extensive big blast," TVNZ quoted her as saying.

But she said she has no regrets about letting her son work in the mine.

"It's not about the negativity or the what ifs... It was what he wanted to do," she said, according to TVNZ. “To see him as happy and proud as what he was before he went down there, that's what stays with you.”

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Filed under: Mine accidents • New Zealand
soundoff (102 Responses)
  1. Gomass

    I feel sorry for the mother and hope her son will get out alive.. God bless them..

    November 23, 2010 at 5:07 am | Report abuse |
  2. salami loverrr

    hope these poor unfortunate souls make it out of the mine alive,, Oh guess what i lovveee SALAMI btw, salamii all the way BRO! peace out suckers... 😀

    November 23, 2010 at 5:12 am | Report abuse |
  3. chicken loverrr

    jheezeeee...hope the guy is okayyy nd i hope he's got some chicken nd salami down there to keep him going strong !!!
    laters and gud luckk !!! 🙂

    November 23, 2010 at 5:17 am | Report abuse |
  4. jesus

    WHY ON EARTH IS A 17YEAR OLD WORKING IN A DANGEROUS mine
    ESPECIALLY IN A HIGHLY INDUSTRIALISED rich, educated,first world country.

    Hypocriscy...!!!

    November 23, 2010 at 6:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Msn

      Don't mistake this for a Victorian child working down a mine....I would imagine he was to start some sort of technical apprenticeship. There are 16-17 year olds in all sorts of 1st world countries undertaking apprenticeships in jobs that have the potential for danger...

      November 23, 2010 at 8:44 am | Report abuse |
  5. Brian

    I pray that this young man and all the miners are found and rescued. God bless and keep them all.

    November 23, 2010 at 6:48 am | Report abuse |
  6. rob 16a

    good old God testing our faith – again

    November 23, 2010 at 7:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. Matt

    Hope he got the job

    November 23, 2010 at 8:57 am | Report abuse |
  8. xab

    Why are people asking for God to bless them and save them when he clearly caved the mine in on them? A little bit foolish, no?

    My best wishes for a save recovery of all the miners.

    November 23, 2010 at 10:37 am | Report abuse |
    • loser

      No.
      And why do you care how people get thru tragedies??!! Or who they turn to. I don't make fun of you for being a loser do I? It's funny, people like you, who make fun of others who have their beliefs, truly are pathetic. Every religion is different, but they all have ONE thing in common, a higher power. Perhaps you better bank on that before your trapped somewhere you can't get out of.

      November 23, 2010 at 5:55 pm | Report abuse |
  9. noongaryorga

    May you all rest in peace together brothers. I hope those making jokes realise that these miners were just everyday men making a living who have now been given up for dead, sleep well with your callous heartless remarks.

    November 24, 2010 at 4:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. Pedro

    i like cereal HAHA im hilarious

    November 24, 2010 at 11:16 am | Report abuse |
  11. Joyce

    Im grieving for the families who lost their love ones in this very tragic incident which costs the lives of these hardworking miners who only wants the best for their families and to give them a good life but im still hoping that miracles do happen that somebody will still be survived..Im very saddened that this young boy still has a future to give to his families but it cut short with this tragedy..My heartfelt condolence to the family and lets pray for their souls to be rest in peace...

    November 30, 2010 at 9:12 am | Report abuse |
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