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Citizen's Arrest Closes Down Hike to Honor Victims of Mine Tragedy

June 30, 2002|From a Times Staff Writer

A memorial hike to the entrance of the Blue Light Mine on Saturday by 21 friends and the stepfather of the two brothers who died in the mine a week ago was interrupted by a resident of Silverado Canyon who placed them all under a citizen's arrest for trespassing.

Two photojournalists, including Times photographer Al Schaben, were among those arrested.

The noon pilgrimage to the mine was led by Matt Murphy, 17, who had been with 23-year-old Nicholas Anderson and his brother, Glenn, 18, but decided against following the brothers when they began to explore the mine.

Sheriff's Lt. Greg Russell said the resident who made the arrests apparently had heard about a candlelight vigil at the mine in memory of the brothers.

"I'm speculating that they were worried about the fire hazard," Russell said, noting the wildfires that are now burning throughout the West, and the danger posed by methane gas seeping from the mine shaft.

The resident who made the arrest declined to identify himself, but said he was acting on behalf of the owners of a home on the private road leading to the mine.

The group had ignored the man's protest and walked around a barrier with no-trespassing signs. At the mine's entrance, they said a prayer and tossed a few of the brothers' belongings into the shaft.

A sheriff's helicopter landed nearby while the group was at the mine and deputies ordered everyone to leave. After making their way back down the road, they were greeted by Sheriff's Deputy Gerry Stenger.

Stenger said the resident wanted to place them under citizen's arrest.

Stenger took everyone's name, released them on their own recognizance, and said he will pass the information to the district attorney's office, which will decide whether to press charges.

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