SOMERSET COUNTY (KDKA) — It was 15 years ago – July 27, 2002 – when nine trapped miners were finally brought to the surface.
It marked the end of a harrowing rescue effort at the Quecreek Mine in Somerset County and Thursday, one of the miners who lived through it visited the site.
Fifteen years ago, the world watched a life-or-death drama play out on a little patch of Somerset County farmland where 240 feet below the ground, nine men were trapped in a flooded mine.
Thomas Foy was one of them.
KDKA’s Ross Guidotti: “Do you think about it often?”
Foy: “Oh yeah… yeah. It gets pretty rough.”
Understandably emotional, Foy attended the 15th anniversary commemoration of the Miracle at Quecreek.
“We just wanted to get out of there because it was a lot of water coming in from the sides of it, just really pouring on you,” he said.
Over the next four days, a plan was developed to get the men out. The obstacles were many, including pumping millions of gallons of water from the mine.
Joe Sbaffoni came up with the plan, and there were no guarantees.
“Everybody was hopeful,” Sbaffoni said. “I don’t know how many people really thought we were gonna be successful, but everybody was hopeful and followed through doing what they could to see it through to the end.”
Seventy-eight hours after it began, the rescue at Quecreek ended 15 minutes at a time, as each one of the nine men rose into the clean, fresh summer air and the watching world breathed a sigh of relief.
“It’s amazing how many people care for us,” Foy said. “One miracle, that’s all we care about.”