Update on the Tallmansville Miners

Whether it’s right or wrong, the main story today is not so much the tragic deaths of these miners. It’s amazement at how, for three hours, everybody thought 12 miners had lived, when in fact only one survived the ordeal. Ben Hatfield, chief executive officer for the Sago mine’s owner (International Coal Group Inc.) gave a press conference, and gave a timeline of events.

At 11:45 pm, the mine rescue command center received a report that 12 miners were found alive. Jubilant rescue workers and mine employees made cell phone calls, spreading the word to family members. When the rescue crew later emerged from the mind, and they no longer were wearing breathing apparatus, it became clear that 12 miners were found not alive. Now, the miners who didn’t make it were wearing their face masks, and apparently at first it looks like they were, in fact, alive.

The command center, hoping that this latest report was wrong, sent four additional rescue teams to confirm the deaths – or to provide medical support for survivors. Word was apparently sent to the Sago Baptist Church, but it’s not clear if family members received the update. Family members were officially informed between 2:30 and 3 am. “We fully recognize the criticism that the company has received about the manner that the news was communicated to the families,” said Hatfield.

Meanwhile, Randal McCloy, the sole survivor, is still in the hospital. He cannot currently talk, due to a breathing tube, but he has been moaning and making other noises, according to family members. According to his father-in-law, tests show that McCloy has no carbon monoxide in his bloodstream. One of McCloy’s lungs collapsed because he had remained still and had been unable to take deep breaths for a long period of time. He also has a kidney dysfunction. One reason McCloy may have survived, while the others didn’t, is because he’s young. At 27, he’s but a kid to the other miners, who were in their 50’s.

Though tests will be done for the weeks to come, it looks like most of the other miners probably perished from being exposed to carbon monoxide. The miners had constructed a barrier to block the gas, and they wore a breathing apparatus.

It is a story with a happy ending for one family, but with a tragic outcome for twelve others. TDI will continue to give you updates from the tragedy of the Tallmansville miners as warrented.

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