I began this story 14 days ago today as we first learned of the disaster at the Crandall Canyon Mine in Huntington Canyon. I was the first editor at the scene and we waited several hours for the first news and reports from the mine owner, Robert Murray who came down and gave the first briefing. These are the words I wrote at that time waiting for the first press conference:
Tragedy always brings with it a swarm of media looking for a story. Sometimes the stories aren't pretty and most of the time those fighting for the stories seem heartless and only interested in scooping others. This is the hard thing to take about this business.
These six men aren't just a story they are friends, neighbors, dads, brothers and cousins. As I sit at the command post I am reminded of the Wilberg Mine disaster and the uncertainty for days, the not knowing is the hardest part. The smallest glimmer of hope is all we have and sometimes these hopes are quickly dashed. I can't imagine the feelings of the families at this time. Life can be so uncertain and so filled with drama and traumatic events.
The events of this mine may not be known for a long time. Sometimes we never know exactly why or how things happen. Our county is no stranger to tragic events. Carbon and Emery counties have long been the sites of many extensive disasters and bad events. We will never forget Scofield, Winter Quarters, Willow Creek, Castle Gate or the Wilberg Mine disaster. Each time something of this type happens it brings back past memories of disasters gone by.
Six lives may not seem like much in the scheme of things, but to a small community and to the friends and families the effects are long range and far reaching.
Later on waiting for another press conference I wrote: Six days into the mine disaster I think of the many emotions of the week past. Monday I was hopeful, Tuesday was despair, Wednesday-Saturday hopeful again. As the days go by it's hard not to wonder if the miners have passed on. But, nothing has really changed, if they didn't pass away in the initial seismic activity, then chances are still good they are alive and OK. Probably really hungry and tired, but still knowing their brothers and sisters in mining will come for them.
What a debt of gratitude we owe these miners and miners everywhere. A lot of the media that have come to cover the mine disaster look like environmentalists to my son. He wanted to come to one of the press conferences with me to see everyone he'd seen on TV since Monday. He thought it quite the circus. He was impressed with Mr. Murray and his caring attitude for the families.
I think of these environmentalist types and know they don't have a clue about coal mining. Probably 99 percent of them have never been in a coal mine, but they all reap the benefits of those who mine coal. Everytime you flip on a light switch chances are that electricity came from a coal fired power plant.
I always think of the story of a mine owner who had gone to California to seek financial backing for a new coal mine he was going to open. At the meeting one of the potential backers said, "This is California, we don't use coal here, we use electricity." What a disconnect from the roots of where electricity comes from; what a disservice to those miners who produce the coal which in turn fuels the power plants which produce electricity that lights our homes. We should think of those trapped miners everytime we flip a switch.
They may have given the ultimate sacrifice so we can enjoy the comforts which have spoiled us. Coal mining gets in the blood, I'm told. Some people enjoy working underground; they love it. I appreciate those who are willing to take these jobs. At this time, it might seem like coal mining is more dangerous than other industries, but that's just not true. Coal mining is a safe industry and becomes more so all the time as advances are made in technology which makes mines safer and more efficient.
Life changing events have taken place. When those miners left their homes that day, they fully expected to return home 12 hours later. No chance for good-byes. Just a routine day at work until it proved otherwise. It makes me think how we need to live each day to the fullest without regrets. We should treat our family members and others as gold. We shouldn't take each other for granted as none of us know how long we have on this earth. Let's make each day a good day and live with hope and love for better days ahead.
Today as we move into day 14 of the disaster, all hope for a rescue seems long gone. Thursday night tragic events transpired at the mine which left three rescuers dead and six others injured. The only hope seems to be from above. Truly our only hope has always been from above. Whatever the outcome, the strength of these families will come from a loving Father in Heaven who will see that they are taken care of and loved. Let's bond together as we make our way through this tragedy with dignity and heads held high in loving memory of those who have gone before.