Calls for help often come when needed

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Every misfortune doesn’t have to have a bad ending; some require loving and caring people to bring about a happy ending, or in some cases to make the ending easier to bear.

Bad events making the news for the last two weeks seemed to have no ending. The latest ones that I heard about were the military jet that crashed at an air show in the Ukraine, and the slaying of four military wives in a six-week span by their husbands who are stationed at Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C. However, last weekend all of America seemed to focused on the outcome of the nine coal miners in Somerset, Pa. They were buried 240 feet underground for 77 hours and 53 minutes after they broke the wall of an abandoned mine that maps showed to be 300 feet away.

This miscalculation last Wednesday caused 60 million gallons of water to rush into the shaft where miners were working. Nine additional men working below them escaped after Dennis Hall, a long-time miner, got on a radio and told them to get out.


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In an interview on ABC Channel 13 Good Morning America show with Diane Sawyer and Charlie Gibson, Monday morning, Hall told Sawyer that if he had not seen the waters coming so fast, all nine of those men would have been buried underneath in the rushing waters.

Meanwhile, rescue workers toiled day in and day out to rescue the nine miners left; at one point the drill that they were working with broke.

These miners were heard tapping on pipes Thursday to let rescue workers know that they were still alive; but after Thursday no other sounds were made. Workers continued to drill a small hole in the spot where they thought that they might be. It was reported that the six-inch hole was a one-in-a-million shot; but it was one that paid off.

A spokesman for the rescue team reported Friday that they were very confident that the miners would be pulled to safety, but they didn’t know what condition that they would be in. So a crew from the Amphibious Base in Norfolk was at the scene with nine decompression chambers in case any of the men suffered any physical damage like the bends or bubbles in the bloodstream caused by rapid changes in pressure once they were rescued.

Meanwhile, below, miners tied themselves together with a rope so that if one drowned, all would drown together or they would survive together. They also prepared for their deaths, wrote letters, and sealed them in a lunch box so that their families could read their last good-byes to them when their bodies were found.

To make a long story short, after the pumping of gallons of water, attempting to keep pressurized air in the shaft, and more drilling, the men were hauled out one by one on a capsule that lifted them to safety early Sunday morning.

On Monday morning, most of America learned that they had been emerged in water sometimes up to their necks for the entire three days and temperatures were in the lower 50s. Hall reported that they were cold all of the time and the only time that they got warm was when they were sent to the hospital.

The rescue mission is now being called &uot;Miracle in the Mine,&uot; and is said to have been made possible through smart decisions, sheer determination and prayers. All men are said to be in good condition and were all were released from the hospital by Tuesday evening.

Ironically, this event took place near Shanksville, Pa. about 11 miles where 40 passengers and its crew died in the terrorists’ attack on Sept. 11.

Family members of that flight sent e-mail messages to the miners’ families during the incident letting them know that their prayers and support were with them. The outcome was a good one because people who cared and determined never gave up the fight to free them, thank God.

This same determination and effort was shown in the days that followed the tragedies on Sept. 11 in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C. The digging of the rubble at Ground Zero to find bodies brought the same anxiety and hope that some people would still be found alive. It is people like this who give of themselves to others that bring some to safety and make others’ burdens easier to bear.

Maybe these are tests to make us stronger and also a reminder that you are not alone. It may also be a voice trying to tell us that no matter what injustice some people may inflict on us or no matter what terrible incidents may happen to us in life, that there are more good people in the world than bad, and that there are more good times than ones that are sad.

Toward the end of the interview Sawyer lost contact with Hall and asked &uot;Can you imagine ever again going back down in the mine?&uot; He never got the chance to answer, but later Tuesday two of the nine said they have had enough of mining and want to stay alive so that they can live to see their children and grandchildren grow up.

Somerset is located in an eight-country area that is famous for its mines and miners. If the other miners choose to stay, they will again be taking a risk. But things happen in life good and bad, and life is even a risk.

Many jobs are dangerous such as firemen, policemen, and lately just being in the military.

If all of the people who have these careers would quit because of the danger, this world would be in chaos. So I guess the statement that &uot;It’s a hard job, but somebody has to do it&uot; is on many minds with these people when danger and death find a way into their territory.

Just remember when dangerous times do arise no matter how big or small, it has been proven in two big ways that your Creator will make available those who will answer your call for help.

Evelyn Wall is a staff writer and regular columnist for the News-Herald.