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Quecreek Miners Hauled to Safety

Aired July 28, 2002 - 07:00   ET


CATHERINE CALLAWAY, CNN ANCHOR: After three gut-wrenching days of not knowing, the word everyone wanted to hear. All nine are alive. Early today, one by one, the Quecreek miners were hauled to safety from a flooded coal shaft in southwestern Pennsylvania. Their first question, what took you guys so long?

Good morning, everyone. From the CNN center in Atlanta, I'm Catherine Callaway, and, boy, do we have great news for you this morning.

THOMAS ROBERTS, CNN ANCHOR: Yes we certainly do, especially if you're just waking up. What a Sunday. I'm Thomas Roberts. Thanks so much for being here and welcome to CNN SPECIAL REPORT on the miners' rescue in Somerset, Pennsylvania.

Now it all really came together last night about 10:00 when the drill from the first shaft finally broke through. Then they were able to lower this phone down. About 11:00 they got their first communication and they did, they said, what took you guys so long?

Our Jeff Flock, though, has been there all night, throughout the evening, to bring us the latest from there. And Jeff, really, the excitement from there was I mean beyond belief this morning at 1:00 when we saw the first miner come topside.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was incredible. I think reporters typically are competing each other were sort of smiling at each other at what took place last night. It was really an extraordinary night. It took place right here in this abandoned grocery store that has become the briefing center.

I want to show you guys the headlines. This is "The Post- Gazette" this morning and it's the headline, Catherine that you read there, the governor's words, "All Nine Are Alive". That's "The Post- Gazette" and then the local paper from Johnstown. That's "The Tribune Democrat." This, of course, is where the hospital is that a member of the miners was taken to.

Again, they're alive and those pictures, dramatic pictures that we watched live on CNN and you know that was the thing. The evening began without live coverage down there because I think in the back of everybody's mind was the notion that perhaps this would not end well. But incredibly, almost, all of our cynical opinions about the thing were shot to heck because miners started coming up out of the ground, and they came up almost so fast that we couldn't keep track of them.

All of it live on CNN. So let's take you back through last night and talk about how it unfolded.



FLOCK: Confirmation from Governor Mike Schweiker of his wildest of dreams.

SCHWEIKER: All nine are alive, and we believe that all nine are in pretty good shape, and the families now know that. So, incredible.

FLOCK: Minutes earlier drillers punched through the last of 239 feet of rock into what they hoped was a pressurized refuge. Down the former air hole goes a two-way. Miraculously someone on the other end is there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is an undying faith there that these guys were coming out. I mean I never lost faith. I knew they were coming out.

FLOCK: At 1:00 a.m., 43-year-old Randy Fogle, complaining of chest pains, becomes the first miner out of the hole. Minutes later he is airlifted to the trauma center in Johnstown where we talked to his doctor.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some patients in this kind of situation when they lay on one part of their body for a day or two they get breakdown out of their muscle and that can injure their kidneys. So we need to do a lot of -- a large work-up still on him before we give him a clean bill of health.

FLOCK: Not long after a live hookup is established with the drill site, and the families, America and the world watched them emerge one by one every 15 minutes or so, coal soaked and wet. One man amazingly even had some juice left in his headlamp. As they come up in a cage-like cylinder last successfully in a mine rescue in 1972, their names are read to reporters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Number two miner at 1:15 a.m., Harry Mayhugh. That's M-A-Y-H-U-G-H. Name Tom Foy, F like Frank, O-Y.

FLOCK: The rescuers plagued by broken bits and other setbacks along the way say they won't celebrate until all nine are lifted up. And with 41-year-old Mark Popernack, who apparently helped organize the group below, the last man does emerge.

SCHWEIKER: For the world to see, to be accomplished in such magnificent style makes it a beautiful ending.


FLOCK: Indeed, a beautiful ending and it is one, sad to say, that a lot of us did not foresee and will now all begin to start unfolding last night. It was as if people couldn't even believe it. We're going to talk to the governor. He's pulling up in his car out there in the parking lot as we speak. We want to get his thoughts this morning.

It is -- it seems, Catherine, Thomas, that everything they did, the team that they put together here worked, from driving that first shaft down, which they put the air through, the heated air, which the doctors said was essential to their survival to drilling the big holes in the right place. It's amazing they found them. It's amazing they were able to get down there despite all the problems they had.

Amazing is the only word I think and extraordinary that really describes it all. So ...

CALLAWAY: You know, Jeff ...

FLOCK: ... there you go.

CALLAWAY: ... you put it so correctly when you said that we cynical reporters sometimes we're thinking the worst throughout this ordeal. I can't imagine that you saw anyone with more faith and that this was going to turn out well than the governor. He was incredibly optimistic throughout this entire ordeal.

FLOCK: You know I was talking with my colleague Brian Palmer on the way here about the governor's optimism, and we were kind of joking about that it was almost this foolish optimism, we thought because we knew that that wasn't the case. But you know it's funny I was making this comment last night to somebody, a man from "Coal Reader" (ph) newspaper, and I was making the point that well nobody thought that you know they'd be able to do this, and he brought me over a copy of his newspaper where they had The National Mine Rescue Contest coverage and you know, we practice this. We know what we're doing. And you know what? Here's a man who knew what he was doing when nobody else thought they did.

Governor, you look tremendously well. You got a shave. You're looking wonderful ...


FLOCK: ... this morning.

SCHWEIKER: ... a couple of hours sleep and a shower ...

FLOCK: Did you actually get some sleep?

SCHWEIKER: I just said to the troopers on the way up here, I think I fell asleep. So ...

FLOCK: How are you feeling about what you accomplished out here?

SCHWEIKER: Oh, I feel it's going to take a little bit, but the thrill of our success and bringing up those nine guys far outweighs the shortcomings that relate to physical energy of myself. FLOCK: We were just chatting, those of us in Atlanta, about us cynical reporters and you know you heard it from a lot of circles. You know, this isn't really going to fly. You know you're making a good effort and you're letting the families know that you gave it the best shot. But you know what? There's very little chance these guys are -- we haven't heard from them since middle of the day Thursday. What made you have what, you know, we kind of called, us know it all reporters, called foolish optimism on your part?

SCHWEIKER: Sure, I had reasons to be confident. I mean ...

FLOCK: Did you know something we didn't know?

SCHWEIKER: No, no, not at all. We tried to impart very quickly and dependably to media and to family all that we knew. But I would tell you that I saw this growing assembly of the right equipment, the right insights and the right people in order to pull off the rescue, was a chance, you bet, there was always a chance there was some danger. But seeing that left me confident.

And I'll tell you the other thing that kind of fueled me through this, you know, the, you know, the folks from (UNINTELLIGIBLE), you know especially their top dog, Dave that worked with me right through this, said to me in a conversation that there was a 9-year-old who was found five days later and had subsisted. So in my mind it was done there successfully, it could be done right here in Somerset successfully. So because of that insight, that historical reference and the technical expertise that we had assembled and the game plan, it left me confident.

FLOCK: Everything you did was right. Everything that you did -- I mean you wrote a textbook out here, not to put too (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

SCHWEIKER: Well I don't know if it will amount to a textbook, but I do feel that the decision to sink that six-foot pipe to -- accomplished a couple of things. One to allow the miners to be in a position to tapping on the pipe to say we're here; come get us.

FLOCK: That gave you some extra juice too. I mean ...


FLOCK: ... it was like we know you're here.

SCHWEIKER: That's right. It left us encouraged and certainly left them encouraged.

FLOCK: Now we're looking at the pictures that we watched, and you know the families watched these pictures. People across American watched these pictures. People across the world watched them as we simulcast them on our international networks.


FLOCK: You know when you look at this, what had to be going through your mind? SCHWEIKER: Nine for nine and it's coming true. A motto of sorts among the rescuers, especially the deep mine rescue team who may well had been facing the prospect of going ...

FLOCK: Going down there ...


FLOCK: You had guys ready to go into that hole.

SCHWEIKER: That's right and we had a lot of things at the ready, but you know their commitment, there are volunteers to go and do this and a host of others believe that it could be done, and so with that proper confidence that I mentioned a moment ago, the outlook was nine for nine. We're going down to bring up nine, and so as we bring them up, it's just a wonderful exemplar of and proof positive that we made good on the commitment, the nine for nine.

FLOCK: And they just kept coming. I mean they almost came so fast, we couldn't keep track of them.

SCHWEIKER: Well, it -- yes it did work, you know, remarkably smoothly at rescue shaft one and I mean you know I, we called it the round-trip time. What was the round trip to send down the rescue capsule and bring them back up and the round trip time seemed to average around four to five minutes, and you know I think that's an example of the -- what had been chancy made systematic. We worked hard and we had that 26-inch circumvent and even though we were concerned about ledges and holding up the rescue capsule, it ...

FLOCK: It never did ...

SCHWEIKER: ... was chancy. It worked out. It became systematic and had that five-minute round time, round-trip time.

FLOCK: Well they were watching in Atlanta, Kathleen (ph), Thomas I know -- or Catherine and Thomas, I know you were watching it as well.


FLOCK: I'm sure they have some questions they'd like to ask you too.

CALLAWAY: Yes we do. I think -- we're all just moved to tears about this Governor.

ROBERTS: Sir, I guess can you explain to us was there a point in all this where you actually thought about shifting something to a recovery mission as opposed to a rescue mission because the gentleman there who works so tirelessly on this crew never gave up hope. So you had -- you had to know something. As you said, you gave that example that you knew of the little girl that stayed in the mine shaft for five days and she was able to survive. So you knew that, and you were able to move forward.


FLOCK: You're not hearing that, are you?

SCHWEIKER: Not at all.

FLOCK: Unfortunately, he is not hearing that and ...

CALLAWAY: Well Jeff ...

FLOCK: ... I apologize for that.

CALLAWAY: ... maybe you can ask ...

FLOCK: But I will -- let me ...


FLOCK: ... let me go ahead and repeat that question and that is I mean did you ever not think about saying, you know, we almost need to think about what we do if we shift to a recovery mission. I mean you were asked at one point, what if you go down in that hole and there's nobody there.

You said I'm not going to go there, but rest assured I have thought about it. Can you tell me now what you were thinking about that?

SCHWEIKER: Well, I thought it important as the lead dog, so to speak, to lay it down. This was going to be a rescue mission, and every remark, and every choice, and every expectation and every action was about being consistent with the rescue effort.

FLOCK: But if you ...

SCHWEIKER: Admittedly, with -- in confidential ways with the right people, we did contemplate what had to be done if it had shifted over to a recovery.

FLOCK: Right, and if you'd gotten to the bottom of that hole and there hadn't been anybody there?

SCHWEIKER: Well, it didn't project that far, but it, you know, we'd still be here lamenting likely the loss of nine good Pennsylvania miners, and that would hurt us all.

FLOCK: Go ahead, Catherine. I know you had something that you wanted to ask ...

CALLAWAY: Yes, I just want ...

FLOCK: ... as well and I'll go ahead and repeat that. Are you hearing now by the way?

SCHWEIKER: No volume.

FLOCK: Still not hearing, OK. Well, Catherine, I'll repeat it then, by golly.

CALLAWAY: Well, just please tell the governor that he has indeed set an incredible example of leadership for everyone. I'm wondering if he's heard from family members.


SCHWEIKER: Now I just need it turned up.

FLOCK: Turned up, I'll turn it up for you by golly. You know we did this all last night. We were sort of on the fly and Catherine, go ahead and talk, and I'll bet you he'll hear you.

CALLAWAY: Governor, can you hear me now? Governor? Well Jeff, just go ahead and ask him if he has been able to speak with any of the family members of ...


CALLAWAY: ... those who were rescued.

FLOCK: Catherine's asking about the family members. You had tremendous contact with them. You really stayed in touch and last night when we were doing our darnest to break the news that you'd punched through, you said by golly we're going to make sure those family members hear first. And I'm sure they're tremendously grateful for all of that, but give me a sense for where their heads are now.

SCHWEIKER: Well, I have not had a chance to be with them for a number of hours. I'm sure that it's just a wonderful feeling, being reconnected with loved ones, and you know I remember one of the guys coming up last night and I said yes, I met your dad. He said to me, make sure when you start that rescue work, you bring my son up and you bring him home. You know, I'm certainly not going to forget that kind of remark, and so, I'm hopeful that they are together right now.

And we had a chance in making that preference come true. But I can say this about the families' first principle. The idea there was to respond to the things that they had requested. You know they were not difficult folks. You know they were, they understood completely as to what was at stake and the associated dangers, but they said ...

FLOCK: They were prepared -- they were prepared for it to go ...

SCHWEIKER: They were prepared for the best and prepared for the worst. They said please keep us informed. Give us preference, and I'd like to think we held to that family first standard and gave them the preference.

FLOCK: Governor, boy I sure appreciate it, and I know everybody appreciates ...

SCHWEIKER: Thank you.

FLOCK: ... the leadership that you displayed here in putting this all together, because as I said, you guys wrote a textbook, and you were at the head of the class directing the guys writing the words.

SCHWEIKER: Well, if we made any history, and did the right things that may end up in a textbook it's because a lot of fine people using American ingenuity did their best and actuated those things and we succeeded, and that's an historical achievement, it may well represent.

FLOCK: I hear that. Sir, thanks ...

SCHWEIKER: Thank you.

FLOCK: ... and thanks for coming out when you're just about a wreck and dead on your feet.

SCHWEIKER: Thank you.

FLOCK: Thank you. Thanks.

CALLAWAY: Yes and Jeff ...

FLOCK: All right ...

CALLAWAY: ... we ...

FLOCK: ... that is the latest from here.

CALLAWAY: Jeff, we very seldom ...

FLOCK: Go ahead, Catherine.

CALLAWAY: ... get to report a happy ending to a story like this. I can't stop smiling, and I'm sure although you're tired, you've been there all night long, that you feel the same way.

FLOCK: Indeed. You know, we were talking because this community, Somerset County, was you know Shanksville. That was September 11. That was one of the plane crashes and this is what this community went through a very short time ago. So in some sense, they've had the other bookend, this incredible, wonderful success and so we just want to amplify on it. My colleague, Brian Palmer, is standing by, getting ready to talk to another one of the heroes here. Dave Hess, who is the secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, and they've got quite a team here that did something that everybody needs to really be proud of ...

CALLAWAY: That's right.

ROBERTS: Well Jeff ...

CALLAWAY: Thank you...

ROBERTS: ... way to tease an upcoming story. Jeff Flock, go get some rest. You've done a great job there. Thank you.

We want to take you now from the site to the hospital to get an update on the conditions of the nine miners. They were taken to Memorial Medical Center in Johnstown, Pennsylvania. Reporter Mary Robb Jackson from KDKA joins us now on the phone to tell us about the conditions of the men that were admitted there early this morning.

Mary, how are they, first of all?

ROBERTS: Unfortunately we lost our connection with Mary Robb Jackson. She was going to give us a report from the Memorial Medical Center.

Just to update you though, the very first miner to come out was Randy Fogle and he complained of chest pains, and that's why he was the first person to be taken up, and he was airlifted to Memorial Medical Center there in Johnstown, PA. We hope to get an update on his condition ...

CALLAWAY: In fact ...

ROBERTS: ... as well as the rest of the miners.

CALLAWAY: ... I do think we have a sound bite from the doctor who was able to attend him right after he was pulled up. Maybe we can listen to what he had to say about his condition.

ROBERTS: Well unfortunately that's not ready for us right now either. We're batting 1,000 here. But we do want to get you back to the hospital when we get to our reporter Mary Robb Jackson. We will take you back to the Memorial Medical Center there to talk about the miners' conditions and how they're doing now.

That one admitted roughly before 2:00 a.m., so hopefully right now he's certainly been treated for the last five hours. Many of the men that were taken there are cold and wet, as we can see here in the video of them coming up. Their dirt, coal-smudged faces as they're crammed into this ...

CALLAWAY: Look at this ...

ROBERTS: ... small cylinder that was used to bring them up some 240 feet after being trapped down there ...

CALLAWAY: We're looking at ...

ROBERTS: ... since last Wednesday evening.

CALLAWAY: This is John Unger. You know it's amazing to see this video. Their face is completely covered. Wet, the conditions they were under, what 240 feet below the ground in a wet, cold atmosphere down there, amazing resilience from these men.

ROBERTS: Yes and we see their spirit was not broken because they cracked a joke when the phone was thrown down to them at about 11:15 last night. What took you guys so long was the first thing that they had to say to the rescue crews.

CALLAWAY: Oh, well we're going to continue our coverage of this incredible story when we come back. Right now we're going to take a quick break.


CALLAWAY: Welcome back everyone. As we continue our rolling coverage of the rescue at Quecreek. If you haven't heard, listen to this. The nine trapped miners in Pennsylvania were rescued alive last night. The first miner was pulled up about 1:00 a.m. Eastern time, and every 15 minutes another miner emerged from 240 feet below the surface.

ROBERTS: It almost seemed that they got their timing down better after the first couple came up and they could get the cylinder back down there and get the people back up, or get the miners back up as quickly as possible and it was amazing to watch this morning as this all came to light about a little after 1:00 a.m. This was after the drill broke through the ground there down some 240 feet in the Somerset, PA mine of Quecreek.

And there they were able to get a phone down to the men at about 11:15 where they made their first communication and roughly two hours later, we see the first miner coming up. That's Randy Fogle and they sent him up first because he was complaining of chest pains.

We want to get you now to the hospital there in Johnstown, Pennsylvania Memorial Medical Center. KDKA reporter Mary Robb Jackson joins us now on the phone to update us on the conditions of the miners that were taken there this morning, and I guess, Mary, start with Randy Fogle and how is he doing this morning or at least what are they saying about his condition?

MARY ROBB JACKSON, KDKA REPORTER: Well Randy Fogle is in good condition. Remarkably, four of those rescued miners are in good condition; three in satisfactory; and two in fair. But there is no doubt in the minds of the doctors who examined them at Memorial Medical Center that coal miners are a very tough breed. As they began arriving at the trauma center after 1:00 this morning, all of the men were in extremely good spirits.

The evaluation process is ongoing. The doctors are telling us that the outlook is very good for the nine men, both psychologically and physically. Now initially all of their body temperatures were below normal, and they were light sensitive from being in the dark for so long, but it appears that they were not submerged in the cold water up to their necks as was earlier believed.

Most of the miners were only wet to their knees or ankles, so they were somehow able to shelter themselves from the elements in the flooded mine. And very emotional reunions with their families took place in the trauma rooms, and we are told there was a lot of laughing and hugging going on. The miners have now been moved to private patient rooms where doctors continue to monitor their vital signs, and this is hard to believe, but some of them could be released as early as today or tomorrow.

This is not only an amazing story because these nine men survived, but also because they are in such great shape after their 74-hour ordeal underground, and we have a press briefing that will be getting underway in just a little over an hour, and we hope to find out how the men did overnight. And we also hope to be able to speak directly with some of their families, but for now from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, that's it Thomas.

ROBERTS: And Mary, they have to be very anxious to get home to a nice warm bed, get themselves out of the hospital there. Let's talk ...

JACKSON: You better believe it.

ROBERTS: ... about the actual - you said at the trauma site or the trauma center, rather, that's where they had the first opportunity to see their families or do you know that some of the guys actually get to see their families on site when they were pulled top side?

JACKSON: No. No. They kept the families, for safety reasons, away from the site. They felt that it was better for them to be reunited at the hospital. They did have a live hookup so that the families could see the rescues as they were going on. And so, as soon as their loved ones were brought up, the families headed directly to the hospital, and they arrived just minutes after the men arrived at the trauma centers. And one of the hospital people told us that when these people arrived, these families arrived in the trauma centers, they kind of approached their loved one very slowly, almost that they couldn't believe that they were really there, and then they rushed in and there was all that hugging and laughing and wonderful, wonderful feeling going on.

ROBERTS: Yes, it's a dream come true after living through such a nightmare. Let's talk about the conditions one more time because Randy Fogle came up first because he had complained of chest pains. Do we know - had anyone complained of anything else?

JACKSON: Well we know that John Unger had complained of an arm injury. They did not get into a lot of detail about the specific conditions of the men other than to give them you typical hospital listing - good, fair, satisfactory. We hope this morning to find out a little bit more of exactly who was experiencing what. We really don't know if any of the men had experienced some degree of hypothermia. Not of that was really mentioned in detail last night. They were just getting these guys checked, checking their vital signs and remarkably, they were able to get them in and out of those trauma rooms very quickly and up to private patient rooms. So all in all these men are pretty remarkable.

ROBERTS: And Mary, you said that there is a press conference coming up in a little while later this morning?

JACKSON: Yes, about an hour from now.

ROBERTS: Just about an hour from now. Well it's such wonderful news. Mary Robb Jackson, she' s a reporter for KDKA, our affiliate there in Johnstown, Pennsylvania reporting from Memorial Medical Center. Mary, thanks very much.

JACKSON: You're welcome, Thomas. Bye-bye.

CALLAWAY: Well, this successful rescue is quite a tribute to the more than 200 people who took part in the rescue, who everyone played an important role and CNN's Brian Palmer has been talking with some of those people. He's joining us now with a guest, I believe, to tell us exactly how they're feeling this morning.

BRIAN PALMER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Exactly. We do, indeed, have a guest Catherine. First of all, good morning from our empty supermarket. We're in the fresh produce section. This place has been a hive of activity, roughly for the past four days. It's sort of eerily quite now, as it should be. A lot of the action has moved to the hospital. You just talked to a reporter there, and also to the homes of these families, who will soon be welcoming back these nine miners.

But we're joined by Dave Hess, the secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. He was one of the first people on the scene here, dealing with the throngs of media. Dave, you were also on the site, very early this morning. What were some of the first words out of the miners' mouths?

DAVE HESS, PENNSYLVANIA DEPT. OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION: Well I think they said when they were still down in the mine, they said what took you guys so long? So they were in great spirits, and that was terrific to see the ninth guy get out of there. That's what we worked for, for 77 hours.

PALMER: Now what about the rescuers themselves? What were they saying before the first person was pulled out? What was their mood and then what happened when they pulled Randy Fogle out and the eight guys after him?

HESS: Well, I'll tell you, that rescue crew down there was very focused, very professional. They were there to do a job, and they were there to do it successfully, and they really accomplished, as you can see, and when that ninth guy was pulled out, it was just an amazing scene.

PALMER: Now, the DEP was the lead state agency in this rescue effort. You've been to a lot of these disaster sites, emergency response sites. How does this incident compare with some of the other incidents that you've been the point man on?

HESS: Well, I think there's a real parallel to Flight 93 crash, which also happened here in Somerset County. You had a very desperate situation. You had passengers on that plane, taking, trying to take the plane and prevent it from being used as a weapon, real heroes there. The miners that were brought out were also heroes because those guys warned the other nine miners in that mine to get out before that rushing water engulfed them.

PALMER: Can you talk a bit about the role and the sort of liaison between all of the various agencies. There are zillions of agencies. You had state, federal, local, volunteer. How did you coordinate all of these different organizations? HESS: Well EMSHAR (ph), the federal agency, mine safety agency, and DEP Bureau of Deep Mine Safety were two primary agencies with responsibility here. These are the kinds of things that these guys practice and practice and train for. You never know what you're going to get into, but that network of mine rescue folks is extremely dedicated and that professional, I think, and that gung-ho attitude I think you saw right here.

PALMER: Now at a certain point, we're going to have to - you're going to have to turn your attention to why this happened. When does that process begin?

HESS: That process will begin very soon. As soon as we wrap up operations here, we need to find out why it happened. What was wrong with the certified maps that covered the old mine? What can we do better the next time? A lot of information that we've got to gather to see, you know, and prevent this from happening again.

PALMER: But for now it's pretty much about the families. And it's about the recuperation and convalescence of the miners. What role is this state? What role is the DEP going to play in that?

HESS: Well, we're going to support the miners as much as we can, but I mean, thankfully this place is winding down. And we see a successful conclusion. And hopefully, we can almost get on business as usual, but this has been a -- just a, I think an unprecedented moment, I think, for everyone who's been involved.

PALMER: Dave, I'm going to turn you over to the able hands of our anchor, Catherine. She's got a question for you.

CALLAWAY: You know, congratulations, first of all.

HESS: Thank you.

CALLAWAY: I first want to ask you...

HESS: Thank you.

CALLAWAY: I want to ask you about the rescuers themselves. In these cases where we've seen people who have worked tirelessly for a number of days, trying to rescue people, even when it turns out well, the stress from this kind of thing is very hard on them. How are they doing as a group? Have you been able to speak with a lot of them? And will there be any type of counseling for these individuals?

HESS: Governor Schweiker, of course, was down at the mine. The bore holes less the rescue shafts last night. He got to speak with a lot of them. I mean, their mood was absolutely terrific. And I think you can see just from the pictures the kind of mood they were in. The follow-up to this will happen in a number of different ways. If people need that kind of counseling support, it certainly is available. We will also do, as mine rescue professionals do, a lessons learned. We'll look at this issue, this response and see how we can do a better job next time.

And that's what those mine rescue guys do. They're professionals through and through.

CALLAWAY: Well, from where we're sitting, it doesn't seem that you could have done anything better. Congratulations to you. I know this is a great Sunday morning for you.

HESS: It sure is. Thanks very much.

CALLAWAY: Brian, it's been a long night for you.

PALMER: Well, actually, it's been a long night for Jeff. We -- our shift ended several hours before the drill actually bored through into the void where the miners were trapped. So Jeff actually took over for that, but we'd been there since the wee hours of that morning. I mean, it's -- we are into our fourth day here. And as Jeff would saying before, we cynical, jaded, hard-bitten journalists were thinking, you know, this is really going on a whole lot longer than we would have expected. And we were not -- I'm not going to speak for everybody, but I think we were preparing for the worst while Dave and the governor and a whole lot of other people were preparing for the best.

I mean, from the very first moment, we were on site several hours after we got notified of the accident. We talked to the chief of the Sikesville Volunteer Fire Department, who was one of the first responders. And he was just oddly optimistic. And we were sort of looking at him like he was not from this planet, but turned out to be absolutely true. And his optimism paid off. Catherine?

CALLAWAY: Yes, it certainly did.

PALMER: Catherine and Thomas, back to you.

CALLAWAY: All right, thank you, that's CNN'S Brian Palmer. Great job out there, Brian.

And if you're just tuning in, we want to tell you what we're all so happy about this morning. It was the ending that everyone certainly hoped for, over these last few days, about 1:00 a.m. Eastern time, one by one, the nine coal miners who have been trapped since Wednesday night, 240 feet below the ground's surface, in a wet, cold coal mining shaft began being pulled up the rescue shaft, one by one. This went on until almost 3:00 in the morning. And one by one, they were pulled up. All nine in relatively good condition, taken to a hospital, all believe or not, will be released within the next one to two days from a hospital there. We could not think of a better ending for this story.

ROBERTS: And apparently showing up at the hospital with a sense of humor.


ROBERTS: Meeting with their families. Families greeting them finally after these long days since Wednesday, since the men were reported missing and trapped, finally they get a reunion there at the hospital. And yes, we're hearing that some of the guys are going to be going home as early as today.

We're going to continue with our special report on the miner's rescue in just a moment.

Coming up, a detailed timeline of exactly what happened, starting on Wednesday, until this morning. Also, we're going to go back to our man on the scene, Jeff Flock. He'll have more from us. A tireless report that's been covering this for us all night long.


ROBERTS: As well as a press conference coming up in about an hour from Johnstown, PA and the medical center, where all the men are being held or were being treated as we speak.


ROBERTS: We'll be getting the latest from them in a moment.

CALLAWAY: Stay with us, everyone.


CALLAWAY: "What took you guys so long," the words of the nine trapped coal miners who were one by one, hoisted up a 240 foot shaft to safety around 1:00 a.m. last night, the ending that we all had hoped for, a nightmare that began Wednesday night.

Welcome back, everyone, as we continue our coverage of the rescue of the miners who were trapped in Quecreek.

ROBERTS: It is such a great story. What a way to wake up to Sunday morning...


ROBERTS: find out that what happened and started on Wednesday has now come to an end. And everybody is in great spirits. The guys have now been taken on to the hospital. Some have been taken to Memorial Medical Center. But we want to take you now back to Somerset, PA and talk with the director of corporate communications at Somerset Hospital there. His name is Greg Chiapelli and he's kind enough to join now on the phone.

And Greg, first off, how many of the rescue miners are there? And explain to us their conditions?

GREG CHIAPELLI, DIR. CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS, SOMERSET HOSPITAL: We have three of the rescued miners here. Mr. Mayhugh, Mr. Hileman and Mr. Popernack. All have been admitted for observation. And right now, we have them listed as satisfactory condition.

ROBERTS: Now the last one that mentioned there, Mr. Popernack, Mark Popernack, he was the last person to come out this morning, as we saw roughly about 3:00 a.m. And his cousin said that he wasn't surprised that he was the last one because he's such a tough guy. Can you tell us what you know about him? Have you had a chance to talk, to meet with him?

CHIAPELLI: Haven't had a chance to talk to Mr. Popernack. Most of the patients we have right now, they need some rest. And so we've kind of given them their privacy with their family. And we're letting them rest.

I have to tell you, though, the coal miners around here, they're a tough breed. And you know, living through this and enduring it, to a lot of people, it's not a surprise.

ROBERTS: Hey, we're getting lessons right now in coal mining 101 to find out how they did this. The men there, you said, are with their families now? So they have been reunited with them there at your hospital?

CHIAPELLI: That's correct.

ROBERTS: And I guess that was -- is that something that you witnessed or something that you've heard about because we heard from the other hospital. They kind of had some laughs. You know, certainly some warm embraces. Do you know about how their meet and greet was there at the hospital?

CHIAPELLI: I know that the family members just watching, you know again, they were just happy, in tears, didn't get a chance to see them, you know, with the patients themselves, but going back and coming out, just a pleasurable moment for them after three terrible days.

ROBERTS: And now you said they're getting some much needed rest. Any idea of a timeline of when they may be released? We're hearing from the other hospital possibly some of the men may be going home as early as today? Is that the case at your hospital?

CHIAPELLI: That could be very well much the case. The physician who admitted had to go home and get a little sleep. And we'll find out a little bit later today.

ROBERTS: And do you know, when the men arrive, were they complaining of anything? Did they say anything, other than you know, that they were tired when they first arrived?

CHIAPELLI: Not exactly. Yes, most of the medical personnel took care of that. It wasn't really privileged to be in that area at that time. We had quite a few calls at that time. And (UNINTELLIGIBLE) else.

ROBERTS: Now were you guys prepared for this? Did you anticipate the fact that some of the men would be taken to your hospital? And how did you prepare for it?

CHIAPELLI: Well, you know, the last three days, since this all started, we've had talks how we'd prepare for such an incident with nine people. If we had one or if we had nine, we felt pretty confident we could handle them at that time. We're right along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. And we've had situations in the past where we've had 30 or 40 people here at once, handling the situation. We had pretty much everything under control.

Probably the toughest part was trying to find a place where all the press.

ROBERTS: And so now, you're not surprised, as you said, about the spirit and the condition of these men that were brought to your facility?

CHIAPELLI: Well, I tell you what, it is kind of amazing that this all came about. I mean, I've seen how I'm watching this. And I think anybody that's ever (UNINTELLIGIBLE), and there were a lot of people watching TV at night, had a little tear in their eye and felt good in their heart about the people who live here.

ROBERTS: Well, it's a wonderful story. We know you're going to give them the best of care there at your facility. It was Greg Chiapelli speaking to us, director of corporate communications for Somerset Hospital there in Pennsylvania.

Now as we were hearing from Greg, he's got Mr. Mayhugh, Mr. Hileman and Mr. Popernack there. The other gentlemen are currently at a hospital memorial medical center in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, but all are doing quite well.

CALLAWAY: And we heard from a reporter at the other hospital a few minutes ago, Thomas spoke with her, who said that the family members even were a little bit stunned. They moved slowly toward their loved ones, the coal miners who had been rescued. And then when they saw that they were OK, rushed. And of course, I'm sure there were lots of hugs and kisses and lots of laughter.

ROBERTS: Well, they were probably uncertain of exactly, you know...

CALLAWAY: What kind of condition they were in.

ROBERTS: ...what kind of condition that they were going to be in.


ROBERTS: And how they, you know, feel about being attacked by probably their loved ones. You know, their wives and their kids and their moms and their dads.

CALLAWAY: And when I see this video, I am still moved to tears over it. It is just amazing, as we've heard Jeff Flock saying, we also heard Brian Palmer say, not too many of journalists really believed that this would be a happy ending, although we were certainly hopeful that there would be. But when they established contact with them last night, and the miners said, "What took you so long? We've been waiting for you."

ROBERTS: Yes, they didn't lose their spirit.

CALLAWAY: It was the beginning of a wonderful ending. They were pulled up one by one. About every 15 minutes, starting I believe around 1:00 a.m. in the morning, Eastern time. The rescue efforts of those 200 people who have worked tirelessly the last three days coming to quite a fruitful end.

We're going to take a break now. We'll have more coverage of this story when we return. Stay with us, everyone.


ROBERTS: Hi, everybody. Welcome back. Or if you're just joining us, good morning to our special coverage, alive rescue at Quecreek. And you are seeing it right before your very eyes. Nine miners were being pulled up late this morning, 1:00 a.m. by the rescue teams there in Somerset, PA. All nine have been brought back. Top side, they're at the hospital resting in good condition. It's an amazing story and one we are certainly happy to tell you about this Sunday morning.

CALLAWAY: Yes, we are. Good morning, everyone. Indeed, it was a nightmare that began Wednesday night. And it ended around 3:00 a.m. Eastern time this morning very happily. We're going to take a look back now at how this rescue progressed.


SCHWEIKER: I'm very happy to report that at about 10:16, we did break through. All nine are alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody that was involved with this project from the get go, I don't care who it was, what they were doing, gave 110 percent.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never doubted it.

HESS: We are very pleased to announce that the first miner has, in fact, been pulled from the mine. His name is Randy Fogle. He is 43 years of age.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Number two miner at 1:15 a.m., Harry Mayhugh. That's M-a-y-h-u-g-h also brought on stretcher.

JEFF FLOCK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We've got them coming every 15 minutes, because Randy Fogle, what was it? 1:00, we've got Harry Mayhugh at 1:15. And now Tom Foy, age 52, at 1:30 a.m., which is about seven minutes or so from now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Name, Tom Foy, F like Frank, O-Y, age 52.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, as you saw the fourth miner as brought up on our live feed here. The gentleman's name is John Unger, U-n-g-e-r, age 52. We're told he has an injured right shoulder, but he's in excellent spirits, as you can imagine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: At 1:55 a.m., John Phillippi, P-h-i-l-l-i- p-p-i as brought out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Miner number six, who's name is Ron Hileman, H-i-l-e-m-a-n, age 49. He was brought out approximately 2:10.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lucky seven, Dennis J. Hall, H-a-l-l. He's 49 years old and he's a local boy from Johnstown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His quick action in using that phone alerted nine others on the other team. And they got out safely.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got some word back from the miners saying that we've been waiting for you. And the mood is obviously very high. Spirits are jubilant. They are complaining of being hungry, but they're alive and healthy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the name of the eighth miner. His name is Robert Pugh, Jr. P-u-g-h junior. He's 50. He's from Goyestown (ph), Pennsylvania.

SCHWEIKER: Just a couple of minutes ago, coming out of the drill site, I saw someone holding a big sign that said, "Nine for nine." And indeed, it turned out to be nine for nine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ninth and final miner to come out of the mine.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His name is Mark Popernack, P-o-p-e-r-n-a- c-k. He's 41 years old. And he's from right here in Somerset, PA.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thought these things would only happen in the movies. Well, they've happened in Somerset, Somerset County right here in Pennsylvania because of some dogged Pennsylvanians.

FLOCK: I'm just looking at these names, Randy Fogle, Blaine Mayhugh, Tom Foy, John Unger, John Phillippi, Ron Hileman, Dennis Hall, Robert Pugh, Mark Popernack. Doesn't get any better than this to see their names among the survived.

LIN: It's been a good one, yes.

FLOCK: Are we done, Carol?

LIN: I think we're done. The story's not over. It's taking on a new phase, but I think we've covered the best of it.


CALLAWAY: Indeed, we did. You know, all nine are resting comfortably this morning at local hospitals with their families by their side. They only had slight hypothermia. There was, of course, a big concern that with the cold water that was in the shaft with them, that they would be suffering from deep hypothermia, but apparently the miners were in water that was only to their ankles, perhaps up to their knees in some locations. But they're doing quite well this morning.


CALLAWAY: And we couldn't be happier. ROBERTS: We're hearing their biggest complaint is that they were hungry.

CALLAWAY: Of course they were.

ROBERTS: Which is great news.

CALLAWAY: And their families are happy.

ROBERTS: Yes, and their families are extremely happy rather, but we can only imagine what they had to go through since Wednesday.

Reverend Charles Olson joins us now on the phone. He is a minister at Grace United Methodist Church. And he had the opportunity to counsel some of these families over the past 74 hours. Sir, thanks so much for joining us.


ROBERTS: I guess start us off with how many of the families did you have contact with? And exactly how were you able to counsel them through this unimaginable situation?

OLSON: Well, we pretty much -- there were a lot of pastors and mental health people and medical people there, but we -- one person described this all as a miner's family together as we were in the farm hall. But we just tried to be very positive, trusting God, that God would help them. We came upon the scriptures of Psalm 18:16, where it says, "He reached down from heaven and rescued me. He drew me out of the depths of water." When we discovered that one, that became kind of one of our positive things. But everybody remained very positive and encouraged.

CALLAWAY: I know that the families were looking to you for some words of wisdom. Reverend Olson, I have to ask. You know, we heard Brian Palmer describe the governor and a couple of the other people who were heading this rescue as being oddly optimistic. Us jaded journalists somehow didn't think this would end as happy as it did. How important to the families was it to remain as optimistic as they were?

OLSON: They -- we really thought that that was the most important thing. I don't recall anybody really thinking that, you know, it was going to be -- we were going to have any other outcome than the one we had. And we tried to stay that way. I know a couple times I -- it did enter my mind, but I can't let that happen because we still have to think positive.

And as I walked around, I said to a number of families, you know, we have to 100 percent say that they're coming out alive. And that was kind of our theme the whole time.

ROBERTS: Reverend Olson, as you said, you tried to stay positive for these families, but you did let it enter your mind that maybe there was something to prepare for, possibly the worst in this. Did you use that at all in your counseling with these families to...

OLSON: No, I tried -- I kept to myself. I didn't want them to think that others might be thinking of anything other than the fact that were going to come out alive.

ROBERTS: And the families, when you had the opportunity to speak with them, what were their, I guess biggest questions to you? Were they looking for you for that counsel, as you said, reading from the bible and talking to them about, you know, what can happen in this?

OLSON: Yes, yes, they were interested -- well, just wanted to know, you know, how we were going to do all this. You know.

CALLAWAY: You know, reverend, I can't imagine that the ministry really prepares you for situations like this, but these are some tough people up there, some tough families, aren't they?

OLSON: They really are, they really are. The community came out in great support in every way. And the fellows were good. I'm the pastor of Mark Popernack. And he was -- he said those guys prayed down there in that mine. And their biggest fear was the water.

ROBERTS: Well, it sounds like you have a lot to celebrate this morning in Somerset.

OLSON: Well, we are. We're very pleased. And the families are rejoicing. And many of the families out here, it was all over -- and their loved ones were out paused again to pray for -- to thank God for the blessing He shared with them.

CALLAWAY: To thank -- yes. There's going to be some loud singing coming out of churches in Somerset this morning.

OLSON: Well, yes, that's -- all the pastors, of course, have to get back to -- to be ready to lead their congregations in worship this morning.

CALLAWAY: All right.

ROBERTS: Well, sir thank you so much for your time. That's Reverend Charles Olson from the Grace United Methodist Church there in Somerset. He was one of he many pastors there in that area, that had the opportunity to counsel families...


ROBERTS: And help them get through this very difficult time. And fill about, you know, 1:00 this morning...


ROBERTS: ...when they got the word that everything was going to be OK.

CALLAWAY: Governor Schweiker said all nine are alive. And they first had contact with them late last night, found out that there all alive. One by one, they were hoisted up a 240 foot shaft to safety. Every 15 minutes, beginning around 1:00 Eastern time, ending at 3:00 a.m., taken to a local hospital, all doing well this morning. All nine families by their side.




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