View Full Version : Nine for Nine Miners Rescued!

07-28-02, 01:05 PM



SOMERSET, Pa., July 28 — After hours of steadfast drilling and agonizing setbacks for rescuers, nine miners emerged in surprisingly good condition early Sunday after three days spent fighting for their lives in a western Pennsylvania mining shaft. Their rescue brought a joyous end to a tense drama as crews raced to bring the men back to the surface before they could succumb to chilling water and a slowly diminishing air supply. One of the miners had this blunt greeting for the rescuers: “What took you guys so long?”

RANDY FOGLE, 43, of Garrett, the married father of three children, emerged in a capsule that had been lowered to retrieve him about 1 a.m. ET. He was retrieved first because he had reported minor heart palpitations, but officials at Conemaugh Hospital, where he soon arrived, said he was slightly hypothermic but otherwise well.
Eight more followed Fogle, stepping off the capsule roughly every 15 minutes, with Mark Popernack, 41, of Somerset, a married father of two children, bringing the drama to a close at 2:45 a.m.
“Their condition is remarkable given the situation they were in,” said Dr. Russell Dumire, a trauma surgeon at Conemaugh Hospital in Johnstown, where six of the miners were hospitalized.
The miners spent their 77-hour ordeal standing, immersed in 3 to 4 feet of water, struggling to keep warm.


As they emerged, the miners surprised medical personnel who had prepared to treat them for symptoms of hypothermia or the bends, an excruciating condition caused by sudden changes in pressure.

In the end, however, little medical attention was required for the miners. All nine were pronounced in fair to good condition early Sunday after they were taken to hospitals, where they were to remain for 24 hours and were reuniting with their families.
In addition to Fogle and Popernack, the miners were identified as:

Thomas Foy, 51, was the leader of the trapped crew, according to his sister, Neva Glessner, of Garrett.

Harry B. Mayhugh, Foy’s son-in-law. He is in his late 20s, married with two children, according to the family baby sitter and newspaper reports.

John Phillippi, of Gray, the married father of a young son “who idolizes everything his father does,” according to neighbor Lori Supanick.

Ronald Hileman, of Gray, an avid hunter whose wife runs the Hileman day care center in Gray, neighbors said.

John Unger, 52, of Hollsopple. His mother, Mary Unger, said he owns a horse and raises cattle on the family farm when he is not working in the mine.

Robert Pugh, 50, of Boswell.

Dennis Hall, 49, of Johnstown.

All of the miners had mild hypothermia and suffered from general dehydration and starvation, said Dumire.

At the hospital, the miners “pretty much devoured anything that was put in front of them,” scarfing down doughnuts, sandwiches, soup and coffee, Dumire said. Several asked for beer, but doctors would not allow it because of the danger of dehydration.

“All they’ve asked for is warm blankets, food — and they want to go home,” he said.

The miners “decided early on they were either going to live or die as a group,” Dumire said Sunday morning.
“When one would get cold the other eight would huddle around the person and warm that person, and when another person got cold the favor was returned,” he said.
The miners also huddled around a pipe funneling down warm air, which Dumire said probably saved their lives. The miners had rock ledges to lean on but were on their feet most of the time. When they were hauled up one-by-one in a yellow rescue cage, they were covered in coal, he said.

The rescue operation hurtled along so much faster than had been expected that state Environmental Protection Secretary David Hess jokingly apologized to reporters for making them race to report the latest developments.


Pennsylvania Govenor Mark Schweiker (2nd from left-blue shirt) helps carry out Mark Popernack, 41, the last of the trapped miners at the Quecreek mine shortly before 3 a.m. on Sunday.

The sequence of events, which state officials called a “miracle,” began at 10:16 p.m., when workers alerted bystanders and reporters that they had broken through to the chamber where the miners were trapped.

Once rescuers managed to reach the underground chamber, they used the operation’s 22-inch wide, 100-inch rescue cage to lower provisions including food, water, blankets, lamps and a telephone line.

More cheers erupted when crews sounded the alert that all nine were alive.

Gov. Mark Schweiker made the good news official at 11:33 p.m.: “All nine are alive.” He said all nine were miraculously in good shape.

“This is a miracle,” John Weir, owner of the mining company, Black Wolf Coal, said. “We’re going to get them up. We’re going to get them in the arms of their loved ones. ... A coal miner is the toughest person who walks the earth.”

Drilling resumed Saturday night after a pair of frustrating delays, and at 10:15 p.m., Schweiker said rescue workers were only about 6 feet from reaching the miners. Moments later, other officials alerted bystanders and reporters that they had broken through. More cheers erupted when crews sounded the alert that all nine were alive.

“They’re all down there! They’re waiting to come up! There’s nine of them!” a mud-caked rescue worker shouted up from the pit near where they dropped the telephone.

07-28-02, 02:27 PM
To this ordeal.

So glad it is over!!

07-28-02, 03:05 PM
Originally posted by Ready2Rumble
To this ordeal.

So glad it is over!!
Those Miners are a special breed,I don't think I could go down into one of those mines everyday for a paycheck.
Thank GOD there all safe now
S/F The Gunny

07-28-02, 05:12 PM
Miracles Do Happen. Thank God and Thank you Chesty, Wherever
You Are. Semper Fi!

07-28-02, 07:54 PM
The American sprit really shined bright last night!!! I was so proud of all of them, they showed me what alot of you men showed me in the Corps. Esprit- de- Corps
God Bless thr USA!!!!

07-28-02, 09:43 PM

In their own words;

When we heard that tapping,

We knew there was hope. we were tied together, so we wouldn't float away from each other. Live or die, we would go together. When one would get cold, the others would huddle around him.

When rescued!

What took you guys, so long?

Can we have a beer?


Gregg Doll
07-29-02, 09:04 AM
When I saw her on TV yesterday the wife of Harry Mayhughs was wearing a USMC tee-shirt......

Somerset Co is the county down from us....They've taken a hell of a hit in the last year, with 9-11 and now the miners....

Gregg Doll
08-05-02, 12:25 PM
According to this Sundays(4Aug), Pittsburgd Post Gazette, 2 of the nine miners are Veterans.

Harry Mayhugh, 31, was in the Navy. His nephew David is a Marine..

Thomas Foy, 52, is a Vietnam Vet and served in the Army.