Coal Mine Rescue Hall of Fame Member Bio
Gary W. Christensen
Gary began his mining career at Deer Creek Mine, in June of 1979. His first years were spent as a longwall faceman and then a longwall mechanic. He accepted a position in the mine safety department in August of 1985. Since that time he has been a tireless advocate of mine safety and compliance to mine law. He is presently Chief Safety Engineer at Deer Creek Mine.
Gary is the father of a son and daughter, and along with his lovely companion Hazel they have 14 grandchildren. He loves to hunt, fish, play golf and spend time with his family.
His mine rescue career began in 1980 when he volunteered to be a member of Energy West’s mine rescue team. Within a year he was captain of the team, a position he still holds today. During his 30 years as a team captain he has been called to assist with or work on various mine fires and explosions, including the Beehive Mine fire and mine recovery, the Wilberg Mine fire and mine recovery, the Orchard Valley mine fire, the Deserado Mine fire, the Willow Creek mine fire, the Willow Creek Mine explosion, and the Genwall Mine collapse. During these events he has spent 1000s of hours under apparatus assisting in saving lives, body recovery and protecting property. In 1985 Gary’s team was called to an abandoned silver mine near Tooele, Utah where an 11 year old boy scout had been lost underground for 4 days. Search teams had scoured the mine with no success. Gary was able to locate the boy alive, and carry him to safety. During his 31 years as a team member he has competed in mine rescue, first aid, bench, and preshift competitions, those who compete against him know he is a knowledgeable and firey competitor. His teams have won numerous contest both on the local and national level. Most notably National Combination Champs in 1981, 1985, 1991, and 2003, and National First Aid Champs in 1995.
He presently serves as a member of the National Permanent Rules Committee a position he has held for 7 years. As a member of this committee he has always gone out of his way to help other teams improve, by sharing his knowledge and skills. In 2009 he was presented the Colorado Mine Rescue Association traveling trophy for his willingness to serve others.
If ever I am trapped in a mine disaster and I could chose one person to attempt my rescue it would be Gary Christensen.