A miner who spent 13 days buried alive in the Beaconsfield Mine reveals he has been haunted by ‘demons’ ever since the disaster.
More than a decade after he was trapped 900m underground, Todd Russell has broken the silence on his split from ex-wife Carolyn Russell, with whom he shared three children.
‘I was selfish. I could be a good father, a good husband, but it was never a consistent thing. I’d be good for a week, a month, two months, then all of a sudden I’d just go off and do the boy thing,’ he told A Current Affair on Monday.
Mine survivor Todd Russell (right) and ex-wife (left) are breaking their silence on their shock split
When Mr Russell was rescued from the Beaconsfield Mine in 2006, the world watched on as he lovingly embraced his wife.
Now 10 years on, Mr Russell revealed his marriage was not perfect and he slipped back into bad habits soon after his rescue.
‘The demons would come out inside me and I’d just go back to the person I was,’ he said.
‘I went back to being the person I was before 2006. I had three beautiful children and Carolyn as a wife, the perfect family, but didn’t do the things with my kids that most fathers do with theirs.’
Mrs Russell said she couldn’t trust her husband to go anywhere, who both share three children (an older photo pictured)
Mr Russell and Brant Webb were both trapped almost one kilometre underground for two weeks in 2006 (pictured leaving the mine)
The Tasmanian gold mining survivor was almost one kilometre underground for two weeks in 2006 with his work mate Brant Webb when a 2.2-magnitude earth tremor struck, trapping the pair.
Speaking to A Current Affair on Monday, Mr Russell admitted he was unfaithful to his wife.
Mrs Russell told host Tracy Grimshaw that ‘there were other women’, which he did not deny.
‘I never trusted him, wherever he went, I didn’t trust him,’ Mrs Russell said.
In an interview last year with 60 Minutes, marking the tenth anniversary of the Beaconsfield Mine collapse, the pair revealed how Mr Russell was a changed man after the tragedy.
Mr Russell had previously bought 14 hectares of land for a sprawling family home with profits from a million-dollar media deal.
‘When he came out he was different,’ Mrs Russell said.
The split comes 11 years after Mr Russell miraculously escaped the Beaconsfield Mine collapse
Mr Russell told A Current Affair he had done things in his past he wasn’t proud of (pictured with his family after escaping the mine)
Mrs Russell previously told the network her husband had changed after escaping the mine (pictured), which collapsed trapping the two miners in a steel cage for more than 300 hours
Beaconsfield Disaster and aftermath
Anzac Day, April 26, 2006: Todd Russell, Brant Webb and Larry Knight were in the Beaconsfield Mine when it collapsed at 9.23pm
April 27, 2006: Mr Knight’s body was found in the mining rubble
April 30, 2006: Mr Russell and Mr Webb were able to make contact for the first time with rescuers since being buried 925m underground
May 1, 2006: The two miners have first food in six days which was pushed through a tube
May 9, 2006: The men walk out of the mine at 6am cheering and smiling
April 18, 2016: Mrs Russell reveals Mr Russell wasn’t the same after leaving the mine in 60 Minutes interview
April 26, 2016: Ten year anniversary of the collapsed mine. Mr Russell and Mr Webb not seen acknowledging each other at anniversary event
August 21, 2017: Mr and Mrs Russell break news of their bitter marriage breakdown in an A Current Affair interview
‘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 and Mr Webb were stuck underground in a tiny steel cage, described as a ‘rat’s cage’, when the mine collapsed on Anzac Day. The pair weren’t discovered for another four days.
They were not rescued until two weeks after the collapse.
The two miners share the grief of losing workmate Larry Knight, 44, who was killed in the collapse, where they spent their time trapped underground thinking the mine was going to collapse and kille them.
During the two weeks the men were trapped, thermal blankets, Sustagen, dry clothes and medicine was sent down to them by rescuers through a PVC pipe.
Despite being crushed together, Mr Russell and Mr Webb parted ways after being rescued from the mining ordeal on May 9.
A decade later, the pair arrived separately at the Beaconsfield mining collapse’s tenth anniversary event in 2016 and weren’t seen to acknowledge each other.
‘I’m not too sure, I don’t know about Todd,’ Mr Webb answered bluntly when asked if his former colleague would attend, before Mr Russell arrived.
Mr Webb suffered anger issues and panic attacks after the ordeal but took to gardening and talking about his experience where Mr Russell ‘sucked it up [with his] Australian pride’ but did seek psychiatric help.
‘The person I became … was a monster,’ Mr Russell said in the interview with 60 Minutes.
The Beaconsfield Mine closed in 2012 and has since become a tourist attraction.