Widows file wrongful death lawsuits after husbands killed in salt mine roof collapse

Iberia Parish

IBERIA PARISH, La. (KLFY) — The widows of two miners killed in Cargill’s Avery Island salt mine are filing wrongful death lawsuits.

The two men lost their lives after the salt mine’s roof collapsed in December of 2020.

A total of 18 miners were inside the mine at the time of the collapse, though 16 employees managed to escape without injuries.

After the salt mine’s roof collapsed, rescue crews searched through the debris for days, trying to find the two missing miners, 27-year-old Lance Begnaud Jr. of Broussard and 41-year-old Rene Romero Jr. of New Iberia.

Their families held out hope they’d be found alive, but they soon learned neither Begnaud nor Romero survived.

Their wives are now taking legal action against Cargill and the mine’s supervisors.

According to their lawsuits, Begnaud and Romero died in a section of the mine that had been barricaded due to previous roof collapses at the site and “torrential” water leakage.

The suits say at least one miner warned supervisors that the area was unsafe and says grouting crew members were advised to “run towards the berm,” or a barrier, if the roof collapsed.

At the time of the fatal accident, Begnaud’s wife had two young daughters and was pregnant. His third daughter was born after he was killed.

Romero had one daughter as well.

The lawsuits from both Begnaud and Romero’s wives say they are due damages due to the loss of benefits flowing from love, affection, comfort, and companionship, as well as the emotional pain endured.

The suits say the men’s children are also entitled to recoveries for their losses.

Cargill made plans to permanently close the salt mine where Begnaud and Romero were killed just six weeks after the roof collapsed.

The company has not filed a formal response to the lawsuits.

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