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Family remembers mine worker killed in flash flood as ‘an amazing man’

(Gary Nelson, seen with his wife, Tara, in the picture on the GoFundMe account raising funds for funeral expenses. Photo courtesy of Alexis Olsen)

FAIRVIEW, Utah — Police are identifying the Gentry Mountain Mine worker killed in a flash flood in Emery County over the weekend. His family members said they’re still struggling to come to terms with his death, and his passing leaves a huge hole in their lives.

Officials with the Emery County Sheriff’s Office said Fairview resident Gary Nelson had worked at the mine for ten years before an intense storm triggered a flash flood, sending a wall of debris down Bear Canyon. He and a co-worker climbed a berm to get above the rushing water, but investigators say Nelson lost his footing and fell into the flood.

Nelson’s sister-in-law, Alexis Olsen, said they can’t believe the weather would turn that dangerous. She has spoken to people living in nearby Huntington, and they reported they’ve never seen a storm like that before.

She said, “I still can’t believe that it happened. You only see that in the movies.”

Olsen said it’s hard to pinpoint one specific reason why she felt Nelson was such a good man.

“I would brag non-stop about the man,” she said.

Olsen said her brother-in-law was the kind of person who was happy to help others whenever they needed something, and he’d always have a big smile on his face, even if he had a hard day.

“Gary was an amazing man. He was a rock to their family,” she said. “He was there for his daughters and he provided [so much] for his daughters.”

Mostly, Olsen said Nelson was a source of constant support for his wife and three daughters.

“He was my sister’s best friend and supporter,” Olsen said. “She’s just struggling so hard, right now, because he was such a rock to her and always there for her.”

Olsen set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for funeral expenses, but, she’s pondering the same thing we all ponder when we lose a loved one.

“I don’t understand why he had to be taken,” she said.