Remembering Sago

Written by on February 2, 2015 in Mining Injury

January 2, 2015 marks nine years since the tragic accident at International Coal Group’s Sago Mine left 12 men dead. It took rescuers more than 40 hours to reach the trapped miners after an explosion trapped 13 men underground. Although the official cause of the explosion was never determined, investigators believed that with better safety procedures, those deaths could have been prevented.

The 12 men who lost their lives that day include Tom Anderson, Jerry Groves, James Bennett, Junior Hamner, Terry Helms, Marty Bennett, Jesse Jones, Fred Ware, Jr., David Lewis, Jackie Weaver, Marshall Winans and Martin Toler, Jr.

The lone survivor of the accident, Randall McCoy, Jr., spent several months in the hospital and suffered brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning. In 2008, he won a lawsuit against ICG which found that ICG and other companies had failed to maintain a safe workplace.

The Sago Mine accident brought concerns about safety in the mines to the front pages. As a result, legislators took a hard look at the outdated mining laws and created new legislation concerning emergency response procedures and mine safety. The state of West Virginia passed legislation that created the Mine and Industrial Accident Rapid Response System and the federal government passed the MINER Act, which requires all underground mines to develop and adopt a written accident response plan.

Nothing can replace the lives that were lost, but the families of the deceased can take some comfort in the fact that their deaths brought about real changes in the mining industry. Today’s miners work in a much safer environment thanks to the attention that was brought to mine safety after the Sago Mine tragedy.

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