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MP3 Porkie - Cold Mountain

Hi America: Become our friend. We are asking you to join us to support the families of the Sago Mine disaster of Jan. 02, 2006. Here’s how you can help. Please support our song “Cold Mountain Mourning”. We need your help. You can help us make this happen.

1 MP3 Songs
COUNTRY: Country Rock, FOLK: Folk Pop

The Story
Here is the song that Cold Mountain Mourning represents. I, Randy Brock, like all Americans went to bed the night of Jan 2 thinking that 12 miners had been rescued that night. I thought it was another miracle rescue similar to the Quecreek event. You know the one where all the miners got out. My initial thought was to celebrate the possibility of Americans being rescued. Most every ones attention was on the fact that there was a rescue of 12 of the miners and the country could feel good about itself.
The next day, like most other Americans, I woke to listen to the news and found out that everything was turned completely around. That particular morning, a cold morning, I spent listening to news reports and breaking interviews of different people on the scene of the event.
Eddie and I live 35 miles northeast of Pittsburgh PA., which is near to the Quecreek event and we were quit touched by that event and, likewise, moved by Sago. As I watched TV news reports and, by chance, was practicing a song I had written for Cousin Eddie to hear and possibly record. We had plans to meet over the Christmas holiday. Due to the fact that I had a cold over the Holidays, our meeting never happened. As I watched the TV, I had my guitar on my knee practicing songs and it occurred to me that someone should write a song about this ironic turn of events of the Sago Mine disaster. I took up my pen and for whatever reason, wrote the words and tune within 1 hour.
At some point it occurred to me that I wanted the song to honor the 13 miners involved and have dedicated it to them. Once I knew that the song was special, I felt that I wanted to give it to a fund or charity and raising money by selling the song. Next I wrote an email to a Radio/TV celebrity and I asked them to contact some recording artist icon like Loretta Lynn, Willie Nelson, or Bruce Springfield. Time passed and I got no response. At this point, I knew I had to do it on my own.

On 1-5-2006, I wrote this email to the CDUI, a Yahoo message board, asking for help:
Bro and sis workers;
I''m posting this message for help in a matter of the heart. As well as a Millwright I''m an amateur song writer located 35 NE of Pittsburgh Pa and I''m writing for your help. I wrote a song ("its cold mountain mourning") for the victims of the Sago Coal mine disaster and would like to donate the song to any type of relief effort. I am a total amateur in the music business, but feel that I will cheat the victims if I don''t attempt to do something. Anyone that can share any advice or help will be greatly appreciated.
Since I know nothing, I need help in recording, producing, and promoting this song. I maybe reached thru this forum or at my direct email address coldmountain@https://www.tradebit.comase help and thank you all ahead of time.
Millwright 2235
Pittsburgh, Pa
As result to this email I got a response from Ken Little in Washington State who told me to get a hold of Mike Stout a recording artist of Homestead, Pa. Think about that, someone in Washington found me a home town man that was going to help. Mike led us to Soundscape Recording Studios. Mike and I meet with Soundscape Studio they introduced us to Fred Nelson of Too Tall Jones a recording artist and the song was recorded using my cousin Eddie Pokusa as the lead vocal, and the rest folks is history and now you can receive a copy of this wonderful song and help the cause succeed. By the way everyone that hears the sound said they love it and its great.

more on the the story

Sago Mine disaster
Wikinews has three articles on the accident:
Coal miners trapped in West Virginia mine
13 coal miners trapped in West Virginia mine
12 coal miners are found dead, one in critical condition, in West Virginia mine
The Sago Mine disaster was a coal mine explosion on January 2 2006 in the Sago Mine (pronounced /ˈseɪgoʊ/) in Tallmansville, West Virginia, USA that trapped thirteen miners for nearly two days. One miner survived. It was the worst mining disaster in the U.S. since a 2001 disaster in Alabama killed thirteen, and the worst in West Virginia since a 1968 disaster that took seventy eight lives.

The explosion
The incident occurred at the beginning of the first shift after the mine had closed for the New Year holiday weekend. An inspection at 5:50 a.m. (all times Eastern Standard Time) cleared the mine for use. Two carts of miners were making their way into the mine to begin work. The first entered the mine approximately eight to ten minutes before the second.

The explosion at approximately 6:30 a.m. was heard and felt by many people outside the mine. It is not known what triggered it. Some early reports noted that there was a thunderstorm in the area at the time and suggested a lightning strike near the mineshaft may have ignited volatile gases, though no one reported seeing such a strike. Sensors from the National Lightning Detection Network indicated at least two cloud-ground lightning strikes near the mine, CNN reported.

In the winter, changes in barometric pressure can cause methane to pool in mines, a cause of other cold-weather mining accidents.

Fourteen men on the second cart escaped the initial explosion. The 13 trapped miners were on the first cart, which apparently passed the point where the explosion occurred. The foreman on the second cart, whose brother was among those trapped, as well as the mine superintendent and three others who entered the mine following the explosion, tried to return down the shaft to rescue the trapped miners. They made it as far as 9,000 feet (2,743 m) down the shaft before air quality monitors indicated there was too much carbon monoxide to proceed. In addition, repairs which they made to the ventilation system raised fears that increased fresh air to the interior of the mine might cause a second explosion.

Rescue effort

Delays in starting the search
Ken Ward, Jr., an investigative reporter for the Charleston (WV) Gazette wrote in a January 15 2006 story entitled Chaos marred critical early hours after blast, that the company did not call a specialized mine rescue crew until 8:04 a.m. — more than 90 minutes after the blast. The company notified the federal Mine safety and Health Administration at 8:30 a.m. The company said it started its calls at 7:40. MSHA records two calls at 8:10 to personnel who were out of town due to the holiday. MSHA arrived on site at approximately 10:30 a.m. The first rescue crew arrived ten minutes later. [1]

Rescuers had to wait 12 hours after the explosion to begin to reach the miners due to high concentrations of carbon monoxide (CO) and methane gas in the shaft. Tests taken through holes drilled from the surface showed that the air near where the miners were last known to be stationed contained 1,300 parts per million of carbon monoxide (400 parts per million is the maximum considered safe). [2]

Since the blast disabled the mine''s internal communications system, the condition of the 13 miners was unknown. They had air-purifying equipment that would give them seven hours of breathable air, but no oxygen tanks. Emergency supplies were stored in 55-gallon drums within the mine.

Further delays
Even after the gases abated, rescuers had to proceed with caution. Safety regulations required that they continually test for dangers to themselves such as water seeps and gas concentrations, limiting their rate of progress to 1,000 feet (305 m) an hour. They checked in every 500 feet (152 m), and then disconnected their telephones until the next checkpoint in order to avoid the possibility of a spark creating another explosion. MSHA had deployed a 1,300-lb. (520 kg) robot into the mineshaft as well, but pulled it out after it tipped and got a flat tire 2,600 feet from the mine entrance.

In Ward''s story mentioned above, he also reported that after more than nine hours of searching, rescue teams pulled out of the mine at about 3:40 a.m. Tuesday. Through an agency spokeswoman, Bob Friend of MSHA said the teams were withdrawn when they discovered that the mine''s atmospheric monitoring system was still running. Given the air quality in the mine, power to the system could have caused a follow-up explosion, safety experts said. Also, a borehole being drilled to check the mine’s air quality was nearing the mine roof. "The bit and steel being used was not equipped to use water, which meant the bit was hot and could ignite an explosive mixture of methane," Friend told Ward. Rescue teams returned to the mine 6:22 a.m. Tuesday. [3]

Locating the trapped miners
The 13 trapped men were located about 2 miles (3.2 km) along the slanting mine shaft, about 280 feet (85 m) below ground. Five four-man teams attempted to make their way down the 5.5-foot (167 cm)-high shaft. As of 12:40 p.m. on January 3, the rescue teams had made it 10,200 feet (3,109 m) down the shaft. At the time, it was believed that the trapped miners were somewhere between 11,000 to 13,000 feet (3,352 to 3,962 m) along the shaft.

Two 6.25-inch (15.9 cm) holes were drilled into the mineshaft from above into areas where the miners were believed to be. Microphones and video cameras lowered into them for ten-minute periods did not find any signs of life. Air quality tests performed through the first hole on the morning of January 3 that indicated CO levels in that part of the shaft were at 1,300 parts per million, over three times the 400 parts per million tolerance of the human body. Officials called this "very discouraging." A third hole encountered groundwater and could not be drilled all the way down.

However, the miners were very experienced and trained to find a safe part of the tunnel and barricade themselves into it in the event of an explosion or collapse. Experts expected that a third hole, if successful, could expand the opening and provide a better way of rescuing the miners than going the long way down the shaft. Miners are required to carry a Self-Contained Self-Rescuer (SCSR) that provides a brief supply of oxygen for evacuation.

The first hint of the miners'' status came around 5:00pm on January 3 when it was reported that a body had been found. Because of the location of the body, those familiar with the miners and their jobs believed it was the fire boss, Terry Helms. Hours later, just before midnight, reports spread quickly that all twelve of the remaining had also been found alive, but these reports were false. International Coal Group CEO Ben Hatfield confirmed that there was only one survivor, Randal McCloy Jr., KC8VKZ, approximately three hours after reports first surfaced of 12 survivors. This was the first official report from the company since the victims were found. On January 5, notes written by some of the deceased miners were submitted to family members [4].

Soon after the first reports of survivors surfaced, several ambulances were seen lining up at the scene to prepare to transport the miners. Hospital spokesperson Turner said that the hospital ER was prepared to respond to a situation in which 12 miners were able to find some shelter and await rescue. The remaining miners were found at the working face of the second left portion of the mine, some 2.5 miles from the mine entrance, behind a "rough barricade structure," as described by Hatfield [5]. This is the same area where drillings indicated high carbon monoxide levels.

Forty-one hours after the incident began, twelve of the miners were found dead in the early morning hours of January 4. One, Randal L. McCloy Jr., was found alive, but in critical condition.

At the time McCloy was found alive, it was erroneously reported that 11 others were also alive [6]. Thirty minutes later, the rescue team told company officials that the original report was incorrect. Ben Hatfield, CEO of International Coal Group which owns the mine, states that he asked state troopers to inform clergy to tell people inside Sago Church that there were now conflicting reports, but the news didn''t reach family members. They expressed anger that they were allowed to continue to celebrate for another two-and-a-half hours. Officials and reporters blamed "miscommunication" between rescuers and the command center for the erroneous information, but questions were raised about the news media''s role in the spread of the incorrect information. [7]

Hatfield indicated that carbon monoxide levels in the area where the miners were found was in the range of 300-400 ppm when the rescue team arrived. This is near the safe threshold level to support life. He said that carbon monoxide poisoning was the likely cause of death.

"Our intentions are to do the right thing and protect our people the best we can," Hatfield said. Federal and state mining officials will conduct a "thorough investigation" of the accident "with full company support."

Early response of government officials
Governor Joe Manchin, who lost an uncle in the 1968 Farmington Mining Disaster, arrived at the Sago site on January 2 after flying in from Atlanta, Georgia, where he was preparing to watch the West Virginia University Mountaineers football team play in the Sugar Bowl. Congresswoman Shelley Moore Capito was also among the officials that joined the family members at the scene.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration had approximately 25 people on the scene at any given time, according to the Agency''s Web site.

Mine reopens
On March 11, 2006, in her story, "Mine reopens except for site of fatal blast," Associated Press writer Vicki Smith reported that federal inspectors had approved the Sago mine for reopening the previous day.

On March 16, 2006, Village Voice writerJames Ridgeway, reported in "Few Answers as Sago Mine Reopens," that the mine reopened March 15, 2006. He criticized, "So, not knowing what caused the explosion, or whether the mine remains vulnerable to that kind of accident, the mine owners started operations again as the federal and state safety officials stood by."

Mine Ownership

Anker West Virginia Mining
Anker West Virginia Mining is listed as the permittee for the Sago Mine.
International Coal Group (ICG)
International Coal Group, Inc. [8] was formed in May 2004 by investor Wilbur Ross, who led a group that bought many of Horizon Natural Resources'' assets in a bankruptcy auction. The company produces coal from 12 mining complexes in Northern and Central Appalachia (Kentucky, Maryland, and West Virginia) and from one complex in the Illinois Basin.

Ross, originally operating as Newcoal LLC with four other investors, expressed interest in buying Horizon''s nonunion properties, but not its six union operations. Horizon was then allowed to sever its union contracts, including pension benefits, by bankrupcy court, according to the Associated Press in the story "Coal Miners Lose Health Benefits" on August 9, 2004. [9]

In March 2005, ICG agreed to acquire Anker Coal Group, Inc. {In its third quarter report dated October 26, 2005, ICG reported, "All conditions to closing the acquisitions have been satisfied other than effectiveness of the related registration statement." [10]

International Coal Group announced that on January 5, 2006, it brought in Dix & Eaton to assist with communications efforts regarding the Sago Mine accident. [11]

"Serious and substantial" violations in prior inspections
In 2005, the mine was cited by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) 208 times for violating regulations, up from 68 in 2004. Of those, 96 were considered significant and substantial. [12] Additionally, West Virginia''s Office of Miners'' Health, Safety and Training issued 144 citations over that year, up from 74 the previous year.

Some of those citations were for violations that could have been factors in the accident, such as failure to control methane and coal-dust accumulation, failure to properly shore up shafts against collapse and overall deficiencies in emergency planning.

Ken Ward, Jr., in a January 3, 2006 story in the Charleston Gazette, "Sago mine has history of roof falls", writes that the most recent MSHA inspections, from early October to late December, resulted in 46 citations and three orders, 18 of which were “serious and substantial.” (S&S) Violations include failure to follow the approved roof control and mine ventilation plans and problems concerning emergency escapeways and required pre-shift safety examinations. From early July to late September, MSHA found 70 violations, 42 of which were S&S. MSHA found 52 violations from April to June, of which 31were S&S.

Ward explains, "These “S&S” violations are those that MSHA believes are likely to cause an accident that would seriously injure a miner."

Davitt McAteer, MSHA chief during the Clinton administration told Ward, "The numbers don’t sound good....[they are] sufficiently high that it should tip off management that there is something amiss here. For a small operation, that is a significant number of violations.” McAteer said the roof fall frequency “suggests that the roof is bad and that the support system is not meeting the needs of the roof.” [13]

On January 3 2006, Tom Foreman interviewed Bruce Watzman of the National Mining Association, for Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN. According to the Association''s website, it is "the voice of the American mining industry in Washington, D.C." and "only national trade organization that represents the interests of mining before Congress, the Administration, federal agencies, the judiciary and the media." [14]

Asked by Foreman, "And in making a quick review of these violations, you don''t see anything there that leaps out at you as endangering miners'' lives?" Watzman says no and when asked to explain, replies, "They could be paperwork errors, they could be reporting errors. A lot of violations, but many of which were not significant to really impact minor safety." [15]

McAteer, in contrast, told Christian Science Monitor reporters Mark Clayton and Amanda Paulson for their January 6, 2006 story, "Sago raises red flags for mine oversight", "If you have a widespread practice of S&S violations over an extended period of time like we have here, it suggests that you''ve got much more serious problems than just paperwork violations." [16]

Originally MSHA reported on its website that none of the violations were considered to be an "immediate risk of injury" and that all but three violations, related to shoring up the roof, were corrected by the time of the accident. The current posting, however, says, "Of the 208 citations, orders and safeguards issued in 2005, several involved significant violations that were the result of high negligence and MSHA ordered that mining cease in the affected area until the unsafe condition was addressed. However, less than half of the overall citations against Sago Mine in 2005 were for “significant and substantial” violations – and all but eight of the overall citations have been corrected by the operator. The eight remaining issues were being abated by the operator in compliance with the abatement provisions of the Mine Act.

"Mining operations at the Sago Mine more than doubled between 2004 and 2005, and the injury rate was significantly above the national average. This prompted MSHA to dramatically increase – by 84% – its on-site inspection and enforcement presence. As a result, MSHA also took significantly more enforcement actions – 208 in total – against Sago Mine in 2005, requiring the operator to quickly correct health and safety violations in accordance with federal Mine Act standards." [17]

Relying on MSHA records, Ellen Smith, the editor of Mine Safety and Health News, comments on her publication''s website in an article, "Sago Mine Facts", "Sago’s accident rate was 17.04 for 2005, with 16 miners and contractors injured on the job. Sago’s accident rate was 15.90 in 2004 when the national average was 5.66.

"Compare this accident rate to another small mine in West Virginia , Kingston Mining No. 1 Mine, which had and accident rate of 1.21 in 2005." [18]

West Virginia government investigation

According to Ken Ward Jr. in his story, "Mine safety probe: Ex MSHA chief to oversee investigation" which appeared in the January 10, 2006 Charleston (WV) Gazette, WV Governor Joe Manchin announced the previous day that he had appointed J. Davitt McAtteer, U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration during the Clinton administration to oversee a state probe of the disaster. "We will follow every avenue of inquiry, and we will take every step necessary to find the problems and to fix those problems," said McAtteer. Ward referred to him as "one of the nation''s foremost mine safety experts." [19]

According to January 12, 2006 Charleston Gazette story by Scott Finn, "6 legislators named to Sago probe", the committee will include Delegates Mike Caputo, D-Marion; Eustace Frederick, D-Mercer; and Bill Hamilton, R-Upshur; and Sens. Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall; Shirley Love, D-Fayette; and Don Caruth, R-Mercer.

Caputo, who started mining at 19, has been a United Mine Workers international representative since 1996. Love, a veteran broadcaster, covered the 1966 Siltex mining accident in Mount Hope, where seven miners died. Hamilton represents the Sago area and lost a close friend in the disaster. Frederick graduated with a degree in mining engineering from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and has worked for close to 40 years, specializing in safe mining methods and equipment. Kessler chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, which deals with state safety policies and regulations. Caruth has a private law practive which has included coal fatalitiy cases. [20]

Public hearing of May 2, 2006
On March 1, 2006 in a news release entitled "Public Hearings On Sago Mine Tragedy Set for May 2," West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin''s announced the rescheduled March 14, 2006 hearing, delayed at the request of several family members of miners who died in the disaster. Explained adviser on mine safety Davitt McAteer, "It’s a complex investigation and, as the miners’ families have said, it’s more important to determine the facts carefully and thoroughly than to act before all the facts are in.”

McAteer would moderate the joint federal-state hearing to be held on the campus of West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, to include a panel of Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety & Training (WVMHST), state, labor and industry officials.

Manchin said, "I’m confident that May’s public hearings will be very useful in providing crucial information to the families of these fallen miners.”

McAteer said MSHA and the state Office of Miners Health, Safety and Training have agreed to publish transcripts of the so far secret interviews in the federal investigation before the May 2 hearing.[21]

US Department of Labor government investigation
On January 4, 2006, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao, stated that its "Mine Safety and Health Administration is launching a full investigation to determine the cause of this tragedy and will take the necessary steps to ensure that this never happens again." [22]

Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA)
The MSHA issued its own release announcing the independent eight-member which would conduct the investigation including the cause of the explosion, compliance with regulations and the handling of information on the trapped miners'' condition. The team would examine the site, interview mine personnel and others with information, review records and plans, inspect any equipment involved and issue any citations for violations.

Richard A. Gates, MSHA district manager in Birmingham, Ala. with experience as a ventilation specialist and mining engineer would head the team. Others would be John Urosek and Richard Stoltz, ventilation experts in Pittsburgh, Pa.; Dennis Swentosky, ventilation supervisor in Hunker, Pa.; Robert Bates, electrical supervisor in Pikeville, Ky.; Joseph O''Donnell, field office supervisor in Bessemer, Ala.; Clete Stephan, an engineer in Pittsburgh, Pa.; and Gary Harris, a special investigator in Barbourville, Ky.[23]

In its January 5, 2006 version of questions, the MHSA site reiterated, "The team will be headed up by a senior MSHA safety professional who has not been part of the initial inspection and enforcement efforts," [24]

On January 9, 2006, David G. Dye, acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, issued a news release available on the MHSA website, stating "MSHA joins Governor Manchin and the State of West Virginia in announcing that we will conduct a joint investigation into the Sago Mine disaster, which will include a joint public hearing. West Virginia has its own mine safety inspection and enforcement agency, and we want to coordinate closely to ensure that our investigation is thorough and complete...Our full investigative report will also be made available to the families and the public." [25]

ICG tries to block UMWA participation in MSHA investigation
On January 18, 2006 mine owner International Coal Group (ICG) issued a press release objecting to United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) participation. "The UMWA is attempting to manipulate a provision of the federal regulations, [It] does not represent the employees at the mine...[and has] no familiarity or knowledge....that will benefit the investigation...[It] seeks to interfere with the investigation inorder to exploit the tragedy...for [its] own purposes...to revive organizingefforts that have floundered for more than a decade." [26]

UMWA International President Cecil Roberts responded in his own release that date, ""We are not ‘manipulating'' anything–we are fulfilling our responsibility under the MSHA regulations and we will continue to do so to the best of our ability....Just because ICG doesn''t like the law doesn''t give them license to trample it. It''s interesting to note that the very first thing ICG did this morning as part of the interview process that is taking place in Clarksburg was to attempt to get the identities of the miners who designated the UMWA as their representative. MSHA did not release their identities, nor will we. But the bigger questions are: Why do they need to know that, and what would they do with that information if they did know it?" [27]

MSHA filed a motion in federal court to allow UMWA participation and according to Associated Press writer Vicki Smith in her January 26, 2006 story, "Judge Says Union Can Be Part of Mine Probe, U.S. District Judge Robert E. Maxwell ordered ICG to allow UMW officials from entering the mine, saying "There''s no question that the public interest is best served by a complete and thorough investigation into the occurrence of the problems at the Sago Mine....There is a strong public interest in allowing miners to play a role in this investigation, as it is their health and safety that is at issue. [28]

In January 27, 2006 IGA issued a release stating its intention to appeal. [29]

Change in MSHA Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Disclosure Policy
The Sago Mine Disaster brought public attention to criticism of the FOIA policy first raised by Ellen Smith, editor of Mine Safety and Health News in her July 16, 2004 editorial, "Assault on Freedom of Information: The Public Has A Right to Know How Decisions Are Made" [30]

She reported complaints from the United Mine Workers for over a year, from mine operators and by her paper that they could no longer get information from MSHA though the FOIA. She stated that the previous week, "Ed Clair, the U.S. Labor Department’s Associate Solicitor for Mine Safety and Health, disclosed that, without public comment or input, MSHA secretly changed its long-standing policy of routinely releasing inspector notes under the Freedom of Information Act." The prior policy had been in effect since the Mine Act of 1977.

She continued, "Now, the public will no longer be able to get MSHA inspector notes from a mine inspection, unless the operator or miner is willing to go through legal proceedings and the discovery process. Under this new policy, the press is certainly excluded from these notes, miners maybe as well, and it certainly hampers an operator''s ability to resolve many MSHA enforcement disputes without litigation."
On January 11, 2006 Representative Henry A. Waxman (D-CA) asked Labor Secretary Chao to reverse MSHA''s 2004 decision to exclude mine safety inspectors'' notes in FOIA responses, citing how the agency''s secrecy policy limited disclosure about safety violations at the Sago mine for years before the recent disaster. [31]

On January 20, 2006, Education & the Workforce Committee Chairman John Boehner (R-OH), Workforce Protections Subcommittee Chairman Charlie Norwood (R-GA) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), sent a letter to Chao, also requesting a reversal.
According to a news release by Boehner, on January 30, 2006, Acting Assistant Secretary for Mine Health and Safety David G. Dye wrote, “I have recently concluded that, given MSHA’s unique statutory framework, inspector notes should generally be released once a citation has been issued (or an inspection is closed without citations), rather than withholding the notes until all litigation is concluded. The policy will be effective immediately.” [32]

Office of the Solicitor, Division of Mine Safety and Health
Attorneys James Crawford, Tim Williams and Bob Wilson will assist in the investigation according to MSHA''s January 4, 2006 release available on the website. [33]

Senate Appropriations Committee: Labor, Heath Human Services and Education Subcommittee government investigation
On January 9, 2006, on his congressional website, the Committee''s ranking Democrat Senator Robert C. Byrd, https://www.tradebit.com., announced a January 19, 2006 hearing, crediting Senator Arlen Specter, R-Pa., and Senator Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, ranking Democrat on the subcommittee for their help in its scheduling.

“The families of the Sago miners deserve to know what happened in that mine,” Byrd said. “Just as importantly, miners and their families across this country want to know that steps are being taken to prevent others from ever experiencing such pain.”[34]

He added, "The investigation at the Upshur County mine will tell us what caused that deadly explosion. But one conclusion is already evident: it’s time for the decisions affecting America’s miners to be made with their best interests at heart. That should be the legacy of the Sago miners:

In Congress, there are tough questions to be asked of the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). Is enforcement of coal mining regulations tough enough? Are the regulations on the books today current enough to handle the challenges posed by 21st century coal mining? Are mine hazards being minimized? These and other issues demand scrutiny, and the miners’ families deserve the answers.
On January 13, on its website, the committee issued a notice of the subcommittee meeting. Federal federal witnesses would be Acting Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health David Dye, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Mine Safety and Health Bob Friend, Coal Mine Safety and Health Administrator Ray McKinney and Mine Safety and Health Associate Solicitor, Edward Claire. Industry witnesses will be International Coal Group (ICG) President and CEO Ben Hatfield, West Virginia Coal Association Senior Vice President Chris Hamilton and National Mining Association Vice President for Safety and Health Bruce Watzman. West Virginia witness will be investigation leader Davitt McAteer. Labor witness will be United Mine Workers of America International President Cecil Roberts. [35]

On January 18, 2006, on its website, the committee rescheduled the hearing for January 23, 2006. The witness list remained the same. [36]

The Republican members of the subcommittee are: Arlen Specter (Chairman) (PA), Thad Cochran (MS), Judd Gregg (NH), Larry Craig (ID), Kay Bailey Hutchison (TX), Ted Stevens (AK), Mike DeWine (OH) and Richard Shelby (AL). The Democratic members are Tom Harkin (Ranking Member) (IA), Daniel Inouye (HI), Harry Reid (NV), Senator Herb Kohl (WI), Patty Murray (WA), Mary Landrieu (LA), Richard Durbin (IL).

The written versions of testimony from the hearings were posted on the Appropriations Committee website.

Chris Hamilton of the West Virginia Coal Association
Bruce Watzman of the National Mining Association
Ben Hatfield of ICG
David Dye of MSHA
Davitt McAteer of the West Virginia''s Governor''s investigation
Cecil Roberts of the UMWA

Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee government investigation
In a January 10, 2006 letter found on his website, Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) wrote committee chairman Mike Enzi(R-WY) and ranking Democrat, Edward M. Kenneday (MA). Also signing the letter were coal state senators Robert C. Byrd (D-WV), Rick Santorum (R-PA), Paul Sarbanes (D-MD), Richard Durbin (D-IL), Richard Shelby (R-AL), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Barack Obama (D-IL), Jim Bunning (R-KY), Ken Salazar (D-CO), Mitch McConnell (R-KY), and Richard Lugar (R-IN). In a press release about the letter, Rockefeller stated,

"We need to know why the administration thinks that it can carry out a policy where it is committing fewer and fewer resources to meet an industry that has more and more needs.

“We need congressional hearings not only so that we can determine what happened at Sago, but, more broadly, about the state of mine safety across West Virginia and across the country." [37]

That date, Enzi issued a press release found on the committee''s website that he was working with Kenneday to hold an oversight hearing in early March into safety procedures and enforcement measures related to the disaster. He also would hold a confirmation hearing January 31, 2006 for Bush''s nominee to head the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), Richard Stickler. He announced he had written a January 5, 2006 letter to Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao requesting “regular and comprehensive briefings on the progress and preliminary findings” of the MSHA investigation. and enforcement efforts at the Sago mine.

House Education and Workforce Committee: Workforce Protections Subcommittee government investigation
On January 4 2006, Representatives George Miller (D-CA) and Major Owens (D-NY) wrote a letter posted on Miller''s website to Chairman John Boehner (R-OH) asking for a hearing, saying Congress had abdicated its oversight responsibilities on worker safety issues, while the Bush administration filled worker safety agencies with industry insiders. [38]

On January 5 2006, Representative Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) wrote Chairman Boehner requesting him to schedule a hearing at the earliest possible date and posted the letter on her congressional website. [39]

The chairman, along with subcommitte Charlie Norwood (R-GA) issued a statement posted on the committee''s website, "We expect MSHA to produce a thorough account of the events that occurred before, during, and after this tragedy, and the Committee will closely monitor this investigation to ensure its timely completion. Following a full accounting of the facts, the Committee will examine the results of the investigation and determine what appropriate steps may be necessary to ensure a similar tragedy never happens again.” [40]

Findings to date on possible causes

Lightning strike and seismic activity
Weatherbug, a Germantown, MD-headquartered weather tracking system reported on January 6, 2006 that “The evidence suggests that the lightning strike could have caused the explosion due to the correlation between the timing and location of the lightning strike and seismic activity.”

The company''s equipment detected 100 lightning strikes in the region within 40 minutes of the explosion. A single, powerful lightning strike registered at or near the mouth of the Sago mine at 6:26:36 a.m. This strike held a particularly strong positive charge of 35 kAmps. (A typical strike is 22 to 25 kAmps.)

Dr. Martin Chapman, PhD, a Virginia Tech research assistant professor, found that two independent sensors recorded a minor seismic event, possibly from the explosion, 2 seconds later at 6:26:38 a.m. [41]

Use of foam rather than concrete seals
In his January 13, 2006 story in the Charleston Gazette, "Sago blast area was recently sealed" Ken Ward, Jr., reported that state officials approved the use of “Omega blocks,” a dense foam product, to seal the mine, rather than the required concrete blocks. deputy director of the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training told the state board of that group that, “The seals, made with foam, could withhold pressures of five pounds per square inch.”

U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration rules seals to be built using “solid concrete blocks” or alternate materials which will withstand 20 pounds per square inch of https://www.tradebit.comte.[42]

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health in its report, "Protecting Coal Miners from Gob Explosions through Explosion-Resistant Mine Ventilation Seals (1993-2005)" reported that “Without reliable seal designs, miners’ lives could be in jeopardy from the consequences of an underground explosion.”

NIOSH also noted that in an explosion caused by lightning in a sealed area of the Gary 50 Mine, 4-foot-thick pumped cement seals tested by NIOSH and approved by MSHA, “effectively contained the explosion, thereby sparing the miners working nearby.” [43]

Proximity with active gas and oil wells
In the January 13, 2006 Charleston Gazette story "Gas wells near mine", staff writers Paul J. Nyden and Ken Ward Jr. report that according to just released state mine permit records, at least four natural gas wells were in close proximity to the mine. One appeared to be adjacent to the sealed area where the explosion is believed to have occurred. [44]

Sparks from restarting machinery after holiday
On January 3 2006, Jeselyn King and Betheny Holstein, writing for the Wheeling Intelligencer had written a story "Explosion''s Cause Remains Unknown". Former MSHA official Davitt McAteer said restarting operations after a holiday weekend may have caused sparks to ignite an excess buildup of methane gas and coal dust in the mine. [45]

Media coverage
News of the Sago mine explosion first broke widely to television viewers on the cable news channel CNN. At approximately 11:41 a.m. on January 2, during CNN Live Today, anchor Daryn Kagan, announced, "This just in, news out of West Virgina, an underground explosion at a coal mine there."

Hundreds of media, reporters, camera crews, satellite trucks and photographers descended on the small community, taking over yards and setting up camp outside the Sago Baptist Church and at the mine''s coal processing plant. Officials had turned a small second-story room there into a make-shift briefing room for the media.

CNN, Fox News with Geraldo Rivera and MSNBC with Rita Cosby all broadcast live from Sago throughout the night of January 3 and early morning of January 4 as the story continually changed.

Shortly before rumors started spreading that the miners were found alive Tuesday night (and then reversed Wednesday morning), a reporter there posted a description of the scene on his blog:

Sago Road, where the mine is, follows the Buckhannon River and a set of railroad tracks. When you arrive just outside the Sago Baptist church, where relatives and friends of the miners have gathered, you see cars. Everywhere, lining the roads, in people''s yards, there are cars as far as you can see. Then, you see satellite trucks and TV crews and reporters and photographers. They''re also everywhere and you can tell our presence, just under 24 hours at the time, is taking a toll on the small town and the little area we''ve taken over.

Miscommunication and wrong reports

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer at 12:30am EST on January 4, 2006, displaying inaccurate information claiming all miners had been found alive. Many news agencies incorrectly announced that all miners had been found alive due to misinterpretted infromation received from the rescue teams inside the https://www.tradebit.comut 11:50 p.m. on January 3, news services including the Associated Press and Reuters reported that 12 of the 13 miners had survived, attributing the reports of survivors to the family members. https://www.tradebit.com and other websites sported headlines including "We Got 12 Alive!" as well as "Believe in Miracles: 12 Miners Found Alive." [46]

Gov. Manchin, who was in the church with the families when the first incorrect reports began to come in, was soon seen outside the church celebrating "a miracle." The governor later said that his staff never confirmed that there were survivors, but was euphoric along with the families at what seemed to be remarkable news.

Congresswoman Capito appeared on CNN about 1:00 a.m. and said 12 miners had been brought out alive.

Lynette Roby being interviewed by CNN television journalist Anderson Cooper on January 4 https://www.tradebit.com about 2:45 a.m., Lynette Roby, a resident of Sago, and her two young children told CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper that Hatfield had just told family members in the church that a miscommunication had taken place and only one of the 13 miners had been found alive. The family members reportedly began to shout and call mine officials "liars" and at least one person in the church had "lunged" at mine officials.
Weeks later, CNN''s Randi Kaye told an audience at West Virginia University that she had been listening to Cooper''s interview from outside the Sago Baptist Church.

"I heard this unfolding on our air and I must have said something out loud because there was a print photographer standing beside me and he said, ''Did you just say what I think you said?'' and I said, ''I think there''s only one alive,''" the CNHI News Service quoted Kaye as saying. "Then one of our producers was screaming in my ear, ''Get confirmation. Get confirmation,''" Kaye said."[47]

Hatfield confirmed the miscommunication at a press conference shortly thereafter. Initial information indicated that the miscommunication occurred between the rescue team in the mine and the command center at the surface. According to Hatfield, several personnel at the center were able to simultaneously hear the communications directly from the rescue team. Because of the state regulatory officials on site, both company and state officials, including representatives from the governor''s office, were present at the command center. Hatfield estimated that 15-20 minutes elapsed before they learned that there was in fact a miscommunication.

"Bad information"
The CEO said he did not know how the reports of 12 survivors spread, and noted that ICG never officially made that statement, calling it "bad information" that "spread like wildfire." He said that the information could have been spread through "stray cell phone communication." "I have no idea who made that announcement," he said, "but it was not an announcement that International Coal Group had authorized."

Asked by reporters why the company allowed rumors to circulate for several hours, Hatfield said officials had been trying to clarify and verify information before putting family members on an even worse emotional rollercoaster. However, Fox correspondent Bill Hemmer said he was "ashamed" of how the media repeatedly reported the existence of survivors even as reporters and producers themselves were growing to understand that, in his words, "something didn''t add up."

Hemmer noted that the coal company, which had been quite punctual in its dealings with the media throughout the rescue attempt, had not given any information to corroborate the allegations that 12 miners had been rescued, and that the always-available Manchin was nowhere to be found, yet the cable news channels continued to report the story anyway until doctors in a hospital many miles away stated that they had had no contact with emergency service personnel about any of the miners except for McCloy.

Speaking on MSNBC''s Imus in the Morning program, Lisa Daniels speculated that erroneous reports about survivors on local radio stations were heard by mine officials, causing them to question the accuracy of their own information stating that 12 of the 13 were dead, which in turn delayed an official announcement.

Article heading appearing at approximately 3am, January 4 2006 on the New York Times website.
Wrong headlines
Many Wednesday morning newspapers in the United States erroneously reported on their front pages that 12 miners were found alive. (pdf) USA Today ran a headline in their East Coast edition that read "Alive! Miners beat odds". The printed New York Times attributed their information to the family members, but the Times''s website initially displayed an article heading that expressed the live rescue as fact (see screen capture at right). Others, such as the Washington Post, were unclear as to to whom they attributed their information.

In a published report on the website of the newspaper trade journal Editor & Publisher, the editor of The Inter-Mountain, a local afternoon daily based in Elkins, West Virginia blamed the national media''s inaccurate reporting on a lack of knowledge of local culture. "We get a lot of people here who sometimes believe they have an inside story because they hear it on a police scanner or listen to a conversation," Linda Skidmore said. "We know to be cautious of those situations." [48]

Media criticism of MSHA
Broader criticisms of how mine safety is handled by the federal government were also made in the aftermath of the disaster; such criticisms have been considered controversial by some.

Some have suggested that the severity of the accident''s aftermath may have been related in part to inadequate safety standards endorsed by the MSHA under David Lauriski, a mining industry executive appointed to head the agency by George W. Bush [49]. Among other problems cited was the rejection of a proposed clarification of an existing standard, "Escapeways and Refuges," by Lauriski''s administration, which requires that a mine "shall have two or more separate, properly maintained escapeways to the surface..." [50]. This suggestion was derided by a number of Bush supporters and conservative commentators, including columnist Michelle Malkin [51] and bloggers for the National Review [52], who claimed it was an attempt to blame Bush for the disaster; others disputed the question of whether or not safety standards and enforcement were indeed relaxed by the Bush administration [53].

A January 5 editorial in the New York Times [54] explicitly linked the safety conditions at the mine to the effects of "an industry with pervasive political clout and patronage inroads in government regulatory agencies." It noted that "political figures from both parties have long defended and profited from ties to the coal industry," and asserted that "the Bush administration''s cramming of important posts in the Department of the Interior with biased operatives" created doubts about mine safety, singling out Steven Griles, a former mining lobbyist and onetime deputy secretary of the Interior who, the Times alleged "devoted four years to rolling back mine regulations." Federal responsibility for enforcing the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977, which governs the activities of the MSHA, was transfered from the Department of the Interior to the Department of Labor in 1978 [55].

A second editoral in the Times, on January 6 [56] discussed budget cuts to the MSHA and "the Bush administration''s ... [appointment] of a raft of political appointees directly from energy corporations to critical regulatory posts" in the context of the disaster, suggesting that the Sago 12 "might have survived if government had lived up to its responsibilities."
Other commentators, including Kevin Drum, a blogger for the Washington Monthly [57], and Andrew Sullivan [58], also linked the presence of Republican-appointed coal mining executives in the MSHA to the tragedy.
Jack Spadaro, a former director of the National Mine Health and Safety Academy who was fired after participating as a whistleblower in a prior case involving the MSHA [59], made similar statements, referring to the current Bush administration''s "reluctance to take the strong enforcement action that''s sometimes necessary" in an appearance on the show Hannity and Colmes. Spadaro was criticized as "extreme left-wing" for his statements by host Sean Hannity [60]
The MSHA, on a "Questions and Answers" page [61] regarding the incident, has strongly disputed many of these criticisms. In particular, the administration noted that the Sago mine was not an "accident waiting to happen" as the MSHA had never cited the mine for violations that would lead to "immediate risk of injury." It noted also that it had exercised its right to shut down various parts of the mine, eighteen times in 2005, until safety problems were corrected.
Most relevant to the criticisms discussed in this section, the MSHA explicitly disputed the suggestion that "MSHA has grown ''too soft'' on mine operators and has not been aggressive enough in enforcing the Mine Act." It noted that between 2000 and 2005, the number of citations it had issued had increased by 4%, and the number of coal-mine specific citations had increased by 18%.

Dennis O''Dell, of the United Mine Workers of America union, disputed this response, suggesting that the fines MSHA handed to companies for these violations were too small to force action. A Knight Ridder "investigative report", published on January 7 and containing reference to the official MSHA response, concluded that "Since the Bush administration took office in 2001, it has been more lenient toward mining companies facing serious safety violations, issuing fewer and smaller major fines and collecting less than half of the money that violators owed." [62].

Evaluation of media coverage

West Virginia University
On February 13, 2006 The West Virginia University Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism convened a panel of six journalists for a forum entitled “Searching for a Miracle: Media Coverage of the Sago Mine Disaster.” According to the School''s website, the forum covered the "challenges faced by journalists covering the story, the lessons they learned and the role that 24-hour news coverage may have played in one of the biggest media faux pas of the century." [63]

Moderator Kelly McBride, Ethics Group Leader for Florida''s Poynter Institute [64] was quoted by the Charleston Gazette''s February 14, 2006, story,"Forum at WVU examines media coverage of Sago Mine disaster" by Ry Rivard, as saying, "There were real people involved in this story. Real people who didn’t deserve to become the epicenter of a news event....Journalism is supposed to be a service to communities.” [65]

Mark Memmott, a media issues reporter for USA Today said, “Out there in the real world the story is that mines aren’t safe, and why did it take so long for rescuers to get there....Just because we did this panel doesn’t mean we think the media blowing it is the big story.”

According to Memmott, the New York Times, without directly quoting Joe Thornton, West Virginia''s deputy secretary for the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety said Thornton had confirmed “rescued miners were being examined at the mine shortly before midnight and would soon be taken to nearby hospitals. Mr. Thornton said he did not know details of their medical condition.”

Scott Finn, the first Charleston Gazette reporter on the scene, argued that spokesperson from the state or local government or from the coal company would have lessened confusion. “We didn’t know who to go for the truth.” CBS News producer Mike Solmsen reporter Sharyn Alfonsi agreed.

Also appearing were CNN''s Randi Kaye and the New York Daily News’ Derek Rose.
C-SPAN''s American Perspectives: Katrina Recovery & W.V. Mining Disaster [66] aired the forum on February 18, 2006 and has a video of the forum available online as clip 24738.

West Virginia Legislation: SB 247
After the Sago Mine disaster, the state legislature passed Gov. Joe Manchin''s SB247 on the January 23, 2006, the same day it was submitted. The bill created a new mine emergency-response system and required coal companies to provide miners with additional emergency air supplies, communications equipment and tracking devices. The governor signed the bill into law on january 27, 2006. Provisions of the law and its history of passage are available on the state legislatures''s website.[67]

Emergency Rules
In a story in the Charleston Gazette on February 03, 2006, "Manchin mine rules contain no deadlines", staff writer Ken Ward Jr. reported on emergency rules filed February 1, 2006 with WV Secretary of State Betty Ireland to implement the law. [68]

The Manchin administration can put the requirements into effect as soon as Ireland approves them, or in 42 days if she takes no action. The Governor must submit the rules for a public comment period and revise them accordingly. The emergency rules can remain in effect for 15 months. Final rules require legislative approvalm which will likely take place in the 2007 session.

Office of Miners Health, Safety and Training (MHST)
In the first set of rules, the state Office of MHST will require caches of air supplies to give each miner at least 16 additional devices. Mines with coal seams taller than four feet must have caches every 2,500 feet in each working section. In smaller mines, there must be caches every 1,250 feet. Operators must submit plans for cache locations within 30 days for review and suggestions for change; however there is no deadline for equiping the mines with the caches.

Coal operators have no deadline to provide miners with improved rescue gear. It also sets no deadline for new communications equipment or tracking devices.

On February 2, 2003, MHST director Conaway said as soon as the equipment becomes available, "we’re expecting them to be in the mines....An operator is going to have to show us that they have it or that it’s on order....If they can’t get them, they are going to have to show us that they have ordered them and that they are trying to get them.”

According to Ward, Chris Hamilton, vice president of the West Virginia Coal Association, said “I know there are several months of backlog right now...There is still some concern on the reliability of the wireless communications and tracking system....A lot of that is still in the prototype stage and not commercially available.”

This last statement contradicts the finding of a 2003 MSHA report which called the systems “generally effective” and said the agency “encourages” their use.

Mine and Industrial Accident Rapid Response System
The West Virginia Division of Homeland Security proposes a rule that requests filed under the state Freedom of Information Act “shall be held in abeyance until appropriate notification of next of kin of any deceased or victims that are grievously injured.” The next of kin will have to give consent for the relase of information.

Any requests for information about mine accidents reported to the new response system must include the “exact dates and times” of accidents and “the intended use of any information provided.”

Jimmy Gianato, the state’s homeland security director, said the language might need to be revised if questions are raised about properly responding to FOIA requests.

Federal Legislation: S.2231

Legislative History
On February 1, 2006, Senator Robert C. Byrd, (D-WV) introduced a bill to direct the Secretary of Labor to prescribe additional coal mine safety standards and require additional penalties for habitual violators. The bills was referred to the to the Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. Initial cosponors were Democrats Richard Durban [IL], Tom Harkin (IA), Edward M. Sen Kennedy (MA), Barack Obama (IL) and Sen , John D. Rockefeller, IV (WV). The status of the bill can be tracked on Thomas, the Library of Congress''s legislative information system.[69]

Senator Byrd''s news release on his Senate website outlined some of the provisions of the bill. [70]

The 2006 Congressional Record for the statements made by Senators Byrd, Rockefeller, Reid and Kennedy regarding the introduction of this bill runs from page S447 to S452. It can be found on the Government Printing Office site. [71]

Communications and air
The bill would mandate equipment to communicate with and locate miners and provide sufficient caches of air.

Rescue teams
Rescue teams must be staffed and on site

Immediate notification
Operators must notify the MSHA immediately when there is an accident. Any coal operator who fails to do so will be subject to a $100,000 fine.

MSHA notification and response
The bill would mandate a rapid notificaton and response system.

Mandatory minimum penalty
The bill would create a new mandatory minimum penalty of $10,000 for coal operators that show “negligence or reckless disregard” for the safety standards of the Mine Act.

No use of belts for ventilation
The bill would nullify an MSHA rule issued in 2004 that authorizes the use of belt entries for ventilation, which may have caused fire in another accident at Alma.

MSHA science and technology office
The bill would create a science and technology transfer office in MSHA to pull research and development ideas from other federal agencies for use in the mines.

The bill would create an ombudsman in the Labor Department’s Inspector General office for miners to report safety violations.

Federal legislation: H.R.4695
Also, on February 1, 2006, Representative Nick J. Rahall (D-WV) filed companion legislation in the House of Representative, where it was referred to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce. Co-sponsors were Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Alan B. Mollohan (D-WV). Current status is found by searching on the bill number on Thomas, the Library of Congress''s legislative information system.[72] The Congressional Record for Rahall''s comments is found on page H127. [73] His extended comments are found on pages E 46 and 47. [74]

Federal Rule Changes for the Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977

Emergency temporary rules effective immediately for mine operators
On March 9, 2006, David G. Dye, acting assistant secretary of labor for mine safety and health, announced that MSHA was invoking a power which had only been invoked twice since its formation in 1978.

“This...will require the use of proven technologies and techniques to help miners evacuate quickly and safely after a mine accident....We are using the emergency temporary standard to get help into the field as fast as possible.”[22]

A copy of the proposed rules was published that date in the Federal Register. [75]

Self-Contained Self Rescue Devices (SCSRs)
Provde additional SCSRs for each miner underground in a storage area to be readily accessible in an emergency.

Install lifelines in all primary and alternate escape routes to help guide miners when visibility is poor.

Miner training
Quarterly emergency evacuation drills on tranfering from one SCSR to another.

Accident Notification
Informing MSHA of an accident within 15 minutes

Survivor Randal L. McCloy Jr.
Main article: Randal McCloy
Randal L. McCloy Jr., 26, was the only survivor from those trapped at the Sago mine. He was removed from the mine at approximately 1:30 a.m. on January 4, and transported to St. Joseph''s Hospital in Buckhannon, West Virginia. After being stabilized there, McCloy was transported by ambulance later that morning to a level 1 trauma center at West Virginia University''s Ruby Memorial Hospital, 50 miles away in Morgantown. He was found to be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, a collapsed lung, brain hemorrhaging and edema, muscle injury, faulty liver and heart function.

McCloy was transferred to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh on the evening of January 5, to receive infusions of oxygen in a hyperbaric chamber to counteract the effects of carbon monoxide. On January 7, he returned to Ruby Memorial Hospital where he remained in a coma. On January 18, doctors reported McCloy was showing signs of gradual awakening. [76]On January 25, doctors reported McCloy was emerging from the coma, but was still unable to talk. [77]

On January 26 2006, West Virginia Hospitals announced that McCloy had been transferred from Ruby Memorial to its HealthSouth Mountainview Regional Rehabilitation Hospital in Morgantown. He was responsive, could eat, but was still unable to talk. Russell Biundo, M.D, a rehabilitation specialist who treated McCloy at Ruby Hospital would oversee his care. [78]


Of the thirteen miners, Randal L. McCloy Jr. (age 26) was the only survivor. The twelve miners who died are:

Thomas "Tom" Paul Anderson, age 39
Alva Martin "Marty" Bennett, age 51
James Arden "Jim" Bennett, age 61 (shuttle car operator)
Jerry Lee Groves, age 56
George Junior Hamner, age 54
Terry Michael Helms, age 50 (fire boss)
Jesse Logan Jones, age 44
David William Lewis, age 28
Martin Toler Jr. age 51 (mine foreman)
Fred Gay "Bear" Ware Jr., age 58
Jackie Lynn Weaver, age 51
Marshall Cade Winans, age 50

Farewell notes left to families
Family members reported that at least four notes were found.

Martin Toler Jr.''s note said: Tell all I see them on the other side. It wasn’t bad. I just went to sleep. I love you Jr. A photograph of the note was published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on January 6 2006. [79]
Jim Bennett left a note which wasn''t shared with the media. His daughter, Ann Meredith, said that in addition to expressions of love for his wife and children, Bennett''s note contained a timeline of ten hours duration. "Later on down the note, he said that it was getting dark. It was getting smoky. They were losing air." [80]
George Junior Hamner''s note, written eight hours after the explosion said, "We don''t hear any attempts at drilling or rescue....The section is full of smoke and fumes, so we can''t escape....Be strong, and I hope no one else has to show you this note. I''m in no pain, but don''t know how long the air will last." His daughter, Sarah Bailey, shared the noted with a panel of Democrats which convened a forum to hear testimony by miners and their surviving family members on February 13, 2006, as reported the next day by Steve Twedt in his Pittsburgh Post-Gazette story, "Relatives of lost miners say U.S. indifferent to safety." [81]

Funerals and memorial services
Private funerals for the twelve deceased miners were held on January 8, to 10 January 2006. A public memorial service was held on January 15 for all twelve at West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon. More than 2,000 attended the service, which was televised live on CNN. Among the speakers were Governor Joe Manchin and author and West Virgina native Homer Hickam. Both of West Virginia''s U.S. senators, Robert C. Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, and Rep. Capito also attended, but did not speak.

Fred Phelps, an anti-gay minister from Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, best known for protesting at the funerals of Matthew Shepherd, Mister Rogers, and soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, had previously announced he would protest at the service. [82]. Fewer than 20 of his representatives participated in a demonstration across the West Virginia Wesleyan College campus from the church. A larger anti-Phelps group gathered to protest their presence. There was no reported confrontation between the two groups. [83]

See also
List of Mining disasters
Mining accident
Quecreek Mine Rescue (July 2002)
Randal McCloy
2006 Aracoma Alma Mine disaster

External links
MSHA page on incident continues to be updated and now contains a PowerPoint Presentation depicting the chronology of events and documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act
MSHA Data Retrieval System - Mine Identification Number (ID) #4608791
Federal Mine Safety and health Act of 1977
Center for Disease Control National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health mining safety research portal
Transcending Death at Sago
United States Mine Rescuers Association page on Sago
United Mine Workers detailed description of coal mining terms
People Magazine''s https://www.tradebit.com January 13, 2006 "The Miners: The Lives They Lived". an archive of photos and thumbnail sketches of all thirteen miners
https://www.tradebit.com''s January 9, 2006 "Profiles: Tallmansville miners"
Obituary for Thomas Paul Anderson
Obituary for Alva Martin "Marty" Bennett
Obituary for James A. "Jim" Bennett
Obituary for Jerry Lee Groves
Obituary for George Junior Hamner

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