SOMERSET (KDKA) — On a hot July night 10 years ago – exhilaration.
“All nine are alive,” was the announcement. And then the world watched as man after man – the Quecreek Nine – emerged.
“Oh, I definitely was given a second chance at life,” Blaine Mayhugh, a Quecreek mine survivor, said.
This week, some of the Quecreek Nine are returning to the spot where their second life began to remember with those who brought them to the surface.
“I’m just proud to be part of that amazing day,” George Maxwell with the Enlow Fork Mine Rescue Team said.
Seventy-seven hours unlike any other before or since where every decision turned out to be the right decision in the mine and topside. The reminders here are palatable.
“And the emotions come. I mean, to be involved with that and to know you had something to do with nine people coming back to their families,” Joe Sbaffoni, director of the PA Bureau of Mine Safety, said.
Inside a simulation of what the mine shaft was like at Quecreek that day 10 years ago, you get an idea of just how small a space that was, but that pales in comparison when you hear Tom Foy talk about what it was like to be there.
“Toward the end there it was getting pretty slim,” he said. “We had the water within 60 to 70 feet from us,” Foy said. “The worst was trying to stay warm and stuff like that tried to hug together and keep warm with body heat, I mean, you had to do whatever you could do to try and survive.”
Survive they did and this week some will celebrate, but not all. Some have chosen to go on with their lives – grateful – but longing to return to the anonymity they enjoyed before July of 2002.