Beaconsfield survivor’s tragic split


FORMER Beaconsfield miner Todd Russell who was trapped underground for 321 hours has revealed the reason behind his marriage breakdown with his wife.

In an interview aired on A Current Affair Monday night, Mr Russell and his wife Carolyn speak candidly about their marriage breakdown years after the mining disaster.

“There were other women,” Ms Russell said as she revealed the couple had separated.

“I never had any trust for him.”

Mr Russell made world headlines when he survived being trapped nearly one kilometre underground with his former colleague Brant Webb in Beaconsfield, Tasmania, on April 25, 2006.

A 2.2 magnitude earthquake struck while the gold miners were attaching wire mesh to the side of a tunnel 925m below ground.

SPECIAL REPORT: How Todd and Brant survived underground

MORE: Larry Knight’s message from beyond the grave

media_cameraRescued miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb wave as they walk from lift after they were caught underground. Picture: Supplied

They had been working in a small workbasket attached to a telehandler being operated by Larry Knight, then 44, who was killed when the earthquake caused the mine to collapse.

Webb and Russell spent the next two weeks trapped underground as Australia and the world waited until they were finally rescued.

Life has not been easy for Mr Russell or Mr Webb after they miraculously survived the mine collapse.

media_cameraTodd Russell ten years on from the Beaconsfield Mine collapse. Picture: Gary Ramage

Now more than 10 years after the disaster, the couple are opening up to Tracy Grimshaw about what led to their split.

“I’ve done things in my past I’m not happy about, not proud of it one bit,” Mr Russell said.

Mrs Russell also said that “there were other women” in Todd’s life, which he did not deny.

“I never trusted him, wherever he went, I didn’t trust him,” Mrs Russell said.

media_cameraTodd and Carolyn Russell speak about their marriage breakdown with ACA’s Tracy Grimshaw. Picture: Supplied

However Mr Russell revealed even prior to his underground ordeal he had been a “selfish” parent.

“But I could be a good father, I could be a good husband,” he said.

“I’d be good for a week, a month or two months, but then all of a sudden I’d go off and do the boy thing.”

After his ordeal Mr Russell said he returned to his old ways too quickly.

“I just went back to being the person I was before 2006, where I went and did things that I wanted to do in life,” he said.

“I had three beautiful children and I had Carolyn as a wife.

“And you know, I sat there and looked at that as the perfect family, but I didn’t do the things with my kids that most fathers do with theirs.

“That’s something I’ve got to live with now for the rest of my life.

“All I can do now is focus on them and try to do the best I can with them moving forward.”

Mr Russell said he was working to rectify his wrongs.

“I’m not proud of what I did,” he said.

While Ms Russell said she had “put it behind her”.

In an interview with 60 Minutes on the 10th anniversary of the Beaconsfield Mine collapse last year, they told of how Mr Russell had changed.

‘When he came out he was different,’ Mrs Russell said.

“The kids would get really noisy and he’d get really angry … he used to yell at the kids and he never used to do that before.

“Some of the things that he’d say to them you shouldn’t say to your own kids.

“He was just so different.”

Mr Russell told 60 Minutes that his mental health deteriorated to the point where his wife and three children were ready to leave him.

“I got a reality check when I came home and I was met at the front door by Carolyn and the three kids with their bags packed ready for them to move out, because of the person I became after being stuck underground was a monster,” he said.

“I didn’t know I was doing it. They sat me down and I listened and made a promise to them that I would get help.”

media_cameraTasmanian miners Todd Russell and Brant Webb after being trapped underground at the Beaconsfield gold mine for 14 days. Picture: Getty

While Mr Webb told 60 Minutes he was more open in talking about the mine collapse, he said he also experienced panic attacks, paranoia and depression after it occurred.

“The white noise in your head’s horrific and the depression starts and you can actually see it starting but you can’t pull it up,” he said.

“You’re paranoia, you’re locked up in the house … it’s the most horrific thing. And the anger, the anger was so bad.”

At his worst, Mr Webb said he was “not in control anymore” and has made a concerted decision to lead a quieter life.

Mr Russell and Mr Webb also seemed to part ways as friends after the incident. They attended a community event marking the 10th anniversary last year but they arrived separately and did not acknowledge each other.

media_cameraLabor leader Bill Shorten has a beer with Beaconsfield Mine disaster survivors Todd Russell and Brant Webb at the Beauty Point Waterfront Hotel. Picture: Chris Kidd

They shared a beer with federal Labor leader Bill Shorten in the much-publicised event.

At the time, Mr Russell said he saw the day event as just another day.

“It’s just another day for me,” he said.

“Time is a great healer and I’ve moved on … I’m in a pretty good space.”

Mr Webb said the anniversary always brings back memories of the disaster.

Originally published as Beaconsfield survivor’s tragic split

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