- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 30, 2002

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. (AP) At least some of the miners who spent 77 hours in a pit 240 feet underground won't be going back to their old line of work.
"You don't think about the hazards of the job as much when you're doing it now I think we've all thought about it, what everybody went through," miner Randy Fogle said at a news conference yesterday.
"I don't know if too many of us will go back to what we did do. It put our families through a lot; it was hard on us and it was I think harder on them," he said.
In a rescue that transfixed the nation, all nine miners were pulled safely from the Quecreek Mine in rural western Pennsylvania after water from an abandoned mine flooded the shaft where they were working.
A desperate rescue operation with tons of heavy equipment and 18 medical helicopters paid off when rescuers reached the miners Sunday morning and pulled them up a narrow shaft, one by one, in a yellow cylindrical capsule.
"What took you guys so long?" the miners said when they spoke to rescuers for the first time. They reportedly asked for chewing tobacco and beer which doctors wouldn't allow and they were ravenously hungry.
At the rescue site, workers cheered and danced, and the Sipesville Fire Hall, where the families of the men had been gathering, burst into celebration at the news they were all alive.
As each was raised slowly, one by one, through the narrow hole in a 7-foot-tall yellow cage, at least two gave a thumbs up. Their coal-covered faces managed smiles. Rescuers greeted them with applause and shouted out nicknames.
But underground, miner Blaine Mayhugh described a nightmarish scene: The men tied themselves together so they would "live or die as a group." On Thursday, when the water in the shaft was rising, he asked his boss for a pen.
"I said, 'I want to write my wife and kids to tell them I love them,'" said Mr. Mayhugh, choking back tears.
"Everybody had strong moments," he said. "At any certain time maybe one guy got down, and then the rest pulled together and then that guy would get back up and maybe somebody else would feel a little weaker. But it was a team effort. That's the only way it could've been."
All nine were taken to hospitals immediately. Six were released on Sunday while three remained hospitalized yesterday morning, but Dr. Russell Dumire, a trauma surgeon at Conemaugh Memorial Medical Center, said two of the miners would be going home by the end of the day.
"These people had the inner will to go on, and I think that's what pulled them through," Dr. Dumire said.
The one miner who would be staying in the hospital was having severe heartburn that made him unable to eat, Dr. Dumire said yesterday.
One of the men being discharged yesterday is Mr. Mayhugh's father-in-law, Thomas Foy, 51.
His daughter, Tonya Butler, 26, said Mr. Foy told family members "he'll never go underground again."
Though they were covered in coal dust and their heavy-duty clothes were soaked through, the miners surprised medical personnel who had prepared to treat them for symptoms of hypothermia or the bends. Decompression chambers, ambulances and helicopters were at the scene 55 miles southeast of Pittsburgh the same rural area where the hijacked Flight 93 crashed on September 11.
The miners became trapped about 9 p.m. Wednesday, when they inadvertently broke into an abandoned, water-filled mine that maps showed to be 300 feet away.
David Hess, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection, promised a joint federal-state investigation to help determine why underground maps apparently showed the abandoned Saxman Mine some 300 feet away from where the miners were working.


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