Remembering the Sago Miners & Families


       Coal Leader and its staff wish to extend their deepest sympathy and prayers to all the families of the Sago Miners.
       Our hearts and prayers are with the families, friends and loved ones of the 12 miners who perished in this accident:

  • Thomas Anderson - 39

  • Alva Martin Bennett -51

  • Jim Bennett - 61

  • Jerry Groves - 56

  • George Hamner, Jr. -54

  • Terry Helms - 50

  • Jesse Jones - 44

  • David Lewis - 28

  • Martin Toler, Jr. - 51

  • Fred Ware, Jr. - 59

  • Jack Weaver - 52

  • Marshall Winans - 50

      Our hopes and prayers are with Randel McCloy, the one miner who survived. Along with them, the nation has been riveted by the heroic efforts of the mine rescue teams and others, who rushed to the scene and put their lives on the line to try and return their comrades to safety. 
      The U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) launched its investigation into the underground coal mine explosion that killed 12 miners and seriously injured one additional miner. The blast occurred on Monday, January 2, 2006 at the Sago Mine in Upshur County, WV."The purpose of MSHA's investigation is to determine what caused the explosion and whether any safety and health standards were violated," said David G. Dye, acting assistant secretary for mine safety and health. "Then we can take effective action to prevent such tragedies in the future."

      An independent team of MSHA mine safety professionals will evaluate all aspects of the accident and response, including potential causes, compliance with federal health and safety standards, and how emergency information was relayed about the trapped miners' condition. The team will examine the accident site, interview mine personnel and others with relevant information, review records and plans, and inspect any mining equipment that was involved in the accident. 
      Findings and conclusions will be summarized in a formal report that will identify root causes of the accident and document how the incident unfolded. Any contributing violations of federal mine safety standards that may exist will also be cited at the conclusion of the investigation. 
      The investigative team is made up of federal mine safety professionals and experts from around the country. Heading the team is Richard A. Gates, MSHA district manager in Birmingham, AL. John Urosek and Richard Stoltz, ventilation experts in Pittsburgh, PA; Dennis Swentosky, ventilation supervisor in Hunker, PA; Russell Dresch, an electrical engineer in Norton, VA; Joseph O'Donnell, field office supervisor in Bessemer, AL; Clete Stephan, an engineer in Pittsburgh, PA; and Gary Harris, a special investigator in Barbourville, KY. James Crawford, Tim Williams and Bob Wilson, attorneys with the Department of Labor's Solicitor's Office in Arlington, VA, will assist the investigation team. 
      Governor Joe Manchin has appointed one of the nation's foremost mine safety experts, Davitt McAteer, to oversee a state investigation of the Sago Mine. McAteer would also study broader issues and propose wholesale changes to make the state's mines safer. cl



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