SOMERSET (KDKA) — It’s hard to believe but 10 years ago we were glued to our televisions as crews worked tirelessly to pull nine men from a flooded mine in Somerset County.
Ten years later, they gathered there again to celebrate that incredible rescue with some of the survivors and their rescuers reunited for the emotional anniversary.
July 27, 2002. 10:15 p.m. The mood at the Quecreek Mine rescue site was about to change with four simple words from Gov. Mark Schweiker: “All nine are alive.”
Within hours, all nine men in that flooded mine would breathe fresh air once more. They had been trapped for 77 hours.
Ten years later, miners, rescuers and family members gathered at the site to celebrate the miraculous rescue. A ribbon-cutting officially opened the Quecreek Mine Rescue Visitors’ Center, where the story is told in words and photographers.
Pennsylvania Mine Safety Director Joe Sbaffoni was there 10 years ago from start to finish.
“We knew that we would have to pump water,” he said, “and we knew we were going to have to drill a rescue hole.”
The miners would pass through that hole to safety.
Thomas Foy was one of them.
“Once they got the hole open – they cut through, I mean – that was a pretty good feeling,” Foy said. “Everyone was really happy, I can tell you that.”
Fellow miner John Unger is grateful for a second chance at life.
“Last 10 years I had, every day is great,” said Unger. “Even the bad days are good. They are. They really are.”
The former governor, who made that joyful announcement 10 years past, has a final word.
“This must remain a special place in your hearts and your lives,” said Schweiker. “Not just for the nine miners, but for the Commonwealth and the entire world because of what occurred here.”
Quecreek Miners, Rescuers Reunite On 10th Anniversary (7/26/12)
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