Russ Joynson.
Russ Joynson. Nat Bromhead

Miner's cousin waits out NZ ordeal

THERE was a time when Russ Joynson would have been right by his cousin Willy's side if trouble had struck in the dark depths of a coal mine.

But yesterday the Howard retiree had gone to sleep for the fourth night in a row knowing there was nothing he could do for his mate, who has been trapped in New Zealand's Pike River mine since Friday.

Late Friday night Russ got the news his 49-year-old cousin was missing following a gas explosion in the Pike River mine.

His thoughts immediately turned to the days in the '80s and '90s when he and Willy worked together in Howard's Burgowan mines.

“We came from generations of underground coal miners and worked together for a long time,” Russ said.

“We went through a lot, but we never got tangled in anything like this. I don't even remember a time when any of us had a bad accident.”

The fact that nothing serious had happened during all the years he and Willy worked underground made it all the more difficult for Russ to accept Friday's events.

“I sat up all night thinking of him.

“I turned on the TV and couldn't believe it.”

While Russ was quite a bit older than Willy, he spent a great deal of his younger years hanging around with him and his family in Howard.

After leaving Burgowan in the late '90s, Willy moved around mines in Central Queensland, including Blackwater and Moranbah.

He and wife Kim moved to New Zealand with their two children about a year ago.



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