'MINERS ...a different breed'

A coal mine inspector recalls the Quecreek rescue in Pennsylvania.

"Miners are a different breed," says Joe O'Donnell, a federal inspector with the Mine Safety and Health Administration in Western Pennsylvania. "Workers who can handle a job no one else wants to do—and get satisfaction out of it. Sometimes we feel just a little pride among ourselves that we're able to do a job that only a select few can do."

O'Donnell was recalling some of the tensest moments during the spectacular rescue of nine coal miners trapped in Quecreek mine, southwestern Pennsylvania, in July. The mine was flooding, and hope for their survival was dimming by the hour.

"God had to be in control," he said. "There were too many things that happened right for Him not to be. The cable could have broken. The hole could have collapsed. The miners could have drowned. But none of that happened. Delays caused by drills breaking or equipment failing, actually gave us more time to pump water. It was like being dealt a hand of cards—all good ones. It was the best feeling."

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In her true light ...
October 14, 2002

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