False Hope May Have Originated With Mine Inspector

A surprisingly (at least to me) little reported small side story – it won’t bring anyone back, but …

if you stayed up and watched, as I did, in fascination and horror, the Sago mine disaster as it was unfolding, you will remember the elation and cheering when it was announced that all 12 had been found alive, followed by a long time, more than 2 hours, when only one ambulance went from the mine head to the hospital. Then came the stampede away from the church and (if you were watching CNN) the woman who showed up and said to Anderson Cooper “They lied to us .. they’re all dead” and his stunned face as he got her to say it, again and again, in different ways, trying to make sense of what he’d just heard, and trying, I assume, to figure out which version was correct. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a reporter so stunned and at a loss for words.

A state mining inspector believes he may have been the source of the misinformation that 12 miners had survived January’s Sago Mine disaster.

Bill Tucker is an assistant inspector at large for the state Office of Miners’ Health Safety and Training.

He testified at a public hearing in Buckhannon this morning that he may have said ‘They’re alive.’

Tucker doesn’t remember his exact words. He says he was just screaming for help.

Tucker then started checking on the miners, and realized that the first did not have a pulse. Further checks revealed that only one — Randal McCloy Jr. — was alive.

At that point, Tucker picked up the radio and yelled that there was only one alive. But by that time, the message that 12 had survived had been leaked to the families.

Ron Hixson also was with the rescue crew that found the bodies.

He spoke on behalf of himself and all the rescuers, offering an apology for the heartache the miscommunication caused.

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