Mining Tragedy Tough for Local Miners

Mining Tragedy Tough for Local Miners
By: Carley O'Keefe
Galatia, IL - For many in the small mining town of Galatia, the 12 men killed in a West Virginia mine aren't just strangers. They bring to mind a father, a brother, a cousin or a friend who goes underground every day and faces the same risk.
"My step dad was a coal miner, my brother was a coal miner his whole life, it's always scary when they go underground," said Penny Moulton of Galatia.

That’s the business of mining coal; and miners say deep underground, bad things can happen fast.

"It’s not like going to work at a supermarket or a service station, they're back underground for miles," said retired miner Garry Schwartz.

"Things can happen at the spur of the moment. And when you're working underground, you always try to think of what you're going to do in case of a situation," said Galatia miner Mike Stricklin.

But just because miners accept the risks of working underground, doesn't mean they easily accept losing a fellow miner; and for many, the news of losing 12 in West Virginia really hit home.

“It was very heartbreaking when I heard they were not alive. It was very disappointing because we thought maybe they'd get there in time," said miner Danny Camden of Creal Springs.

"It was a hard thing to sit and watch that last night on TV. It really bothered me," said Schwartz.

And for mining families, news of the 12 miners who didn't survive their day at work makes many think in terms of what if.

"Having members of my family who've worked in the mines, it scares you to death. You put yourself in the family members' shoes, and it's almost too much to bear," said Brenda Hunt whose father and brother worked in the mines.

"My prayers are with them. I'd never want to go through something like that, you just can't imagine, you just feel for them," said Moulton.