I woke up this morning to find that 12 of the 13 miners trapped in the Sago Coal Mine were dead. It made me sick.
Thirteen miners had been trapped 260 feet below the surface of the Sago Mine since an explosion early Monday. The mine is located about 100 miles northeast of Charleston, West Virginia. As rescue workers tried to get to the men, families waited at the Sago Baptist Church during an emotional two-day vigil. I can't imagine the grief inside those family members.
What were the miners dying thoughts? Did they pray? Were they at peace? I shudder thinking about them, huddled down there together. I had read how they tried to shield themselves from the deadly gas they knew would probably kill them.
And it did. All but one.
Coal Group Chief Executive Officer Ben Hatfield said during a news conference, "It's sorrow beyond belief." His name is Hatfield ... ring any bells?
My heart goes out to these families and to the area. The violence erupted, it seems, after somebody made a tragic error and announced they had all survived, then later ... retracted their statement ... the miners had perished. I'm not sure how I would've responded to that horrible mistake. Probably the same way the people of Tallmansville did.
As you know, my family is from a town not far from this place. My grandpa was a miner for 37 years. The history of my father's family is mining people and living in Appalachia. The mountains in this region are dear to my heart ... and these people, and the towns they live in.
Coal mining is still better than strip mining, but the dangers--even in the 21st century--are still as horrendous as ever. To the coal companies I say ... "Time to pay the piper boys ... take real good care of those families!"
Will it ever get safer, easier? Who knows? Nobody's been able to guarantee a miners safety since they started sending men into the bowels of hell over 100 years ago to dig for coal. And I doubt they ever will.
Blessings and comfort to the families in Tallmansville today.