The man who walked out of the West Coast mine disaster yesterday has had a double tragedy strike after his brother was trapped – and his grandfather died of a heart attack.
Daniel Rockhouse survived the blast. But his young brother Ben is one of the 29 miners still trapped deep in the Pike River coal mine.
Amid the tragedy, their grandfather “Rocky” died of a heart attack, according to a Facebook posting.
Yesterday the discovery of loader driver Mr Rockhouse, who had been blown off his machine, sparked the alarm of an explosion at the mine.
He and mine electrician Russell Smith, 50, who found him while checking on a power outage, escaped through a service portal and walked 2km through a valley to alert emergency services.
On Facebook, Sonya Rockhouse revealed the family’s disaster: “Just to also let you know that ‘Rocky’ (Nevilles Dad) passed away suddenly last night.
“Its a terrible time for many. Rest in peace Rocky. Sonya will let u all know more when she can. Sonya wants to let you all know that the Pike mine where Daniel and Ben work has had an explosion and Ben, with 26 other men are trapped underground.
“Daniel managed to get himself out and he saved a mans life…hes our hero! Sonya and our family are waiting patiently for good news. Sonya wants you all to pray for Bens safe return. WE LOVE YOU BEN & DANIEL!”
Christchurch-born Mr Rockhouse, 24, is married with a 3-year-old daughter and has worked for Pike River Coal since June 2008.
Father Neville is the safety and training manager at Pike River Coal.
Just hours before going into the mine for a shift, Ben Rockhouse wrote
on Facebook: “I’m sick and tired of being so accident prone. “Can’t go a day without hurting myself or a month without almost dieing.”