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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

Rescued Miner Mayhugh Speaks to Press

Aired July 28, 2002 - 11:42   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
RENAY SAN MIGUEL, CNN ANCHOR: We've got to go back to the big story of the day, the rescue of the miners in Pennsylvania. We understand that we have now some sound, some tape with one of those miners. Let's go to that right now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BLAINE MAYHUGH, RESCUED MINER: ... hold together, so we wanted to wait for each other. And then the boss said, well, we got one more try. He said, number one entry is higher, so everybody let's go there and give that a shot, you know. And then, we got out there, and water seemed like it stopped, and then for about a day and a half, it stayed at that level. And we didn't know what to think.

QUESTION: When did you become aware of efforts to rescue you?

MAYHUGH: We heard the big drill on and off, but we thought maybe they couldn't find us or maybe they broke down or -- we didn't know what to think. You had your high points and low points every day. I mean, you're like, OK, it sounds good. And then at one time the drill -- I think we timed it. It was like 16 hours, we've never heard it run again, so we thought, well, maybe they gave up on this or something major happens. You know, we had no idea what to think.

QUESTION: What got you really through?

MAYHUGH: A miracle. God. Between God and my wife and kids, that's the only thing that got me through.

QUESTION: Did you say any sort of prayers down there?

MAYHUGH: Yeah. Yes.

QUESTION: You all started tapping on the drill when it came down. Why is that?

MAYHUGH: When they first gave us the air shaft, six-inch air shaft, we hit on that right away, and we got a response. But it didn't go maybe an hour later and the water came up too high, and we had to get back out of there. So then we proceeded on beating on the roof back where we was, hoping they'd locate us over there, which we never -- you're supposed to get shotblast from up above, which we never heard.

QUESTION: The compartment that you were in, could you sit down in there? (UNINTELLIGIBLE). The water was still cold.

MAYHUGH: Well, we was on dry, actually. We had maybe 50 feet by 20 feet compartment that was relatively dry -- I'm not going to say dry, but the bottom was moist and...

QUESTION: How were you guys holding on?

MAYHUGH: Snuggling each other. Laying up against each other, or sitting back to back to each other, anything to produce body heat, you know.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

MAYHUGH: Anything imaginable. About the family, last thing you said to your family, you know, before you left work -- for work that day. You know, and the only day of my life I never kissed my wife before I went to work, and that had to be the day there.

QUESTION: How -- who was it that really kept you together (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

MAYHUGH: Everybody. Everybody had strong moments. But any certain time maybe one guy got down and then the rest pulled together, and then that guy would get back up and maybe someone else would feel a little weaker, but it was a team effort. That's the only way it could have been.

QUESTION: Did you have a sense about how long you were down there?

MAYHUGH: Yeah, I kept looking at my watch, and we knew exactly it was Saturday or Thursday night or Friday. We kept track.

QUESTION: Were there other ways that you passed the time?

MAYHUGH: No. There was no -- no lights, because we was down to maybe two lights and we had to spare them, and we just used two lights for two guys maybe going out to see if we could see the drill coming through, and then everybody would stay back, and then, you know, vice versa, two separate guys would go at certain times, and then we'd beat on the roof, you know, just take turns.

QUESTION: How was it when the drill came through?

MAYHUGH: It was hard to hear. It was so noisy down there. We could actually hear the drill, but we couldn't tell it came through. Different times we thought it was through and it wasn't through. Then the last time when I guess it did go through, some -- I think it was your father-in-law and the other -- Ron Holeman (ph), he came up and said, we've got a hole, everybody come down here, and we just started yelling up, "help, help, please get us out."

QUESTION: How does it feel today to be here with your wife? About this miracle?

MAYHUGH: Feels great. But emotionally I'm still... UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Blessed. Blessed.

MAYHUGH: ... you know -- it's going to take time to heal.

QUESTION: Climbing into the capsule, how did you get in? How was the ride up?

MAYHUGH: The ride, it was all right. Just a lot of water pouring on you and you just couldn't wait to get up, because all the water running down your face and down your back and you were like just, please, just get me up out of here.

QUESTION: Where is your father-in-law (UNINTELLIGIBLE)?

MAYHUGH: Randy Fogle (ph) was -- is my boss, and my father-in- law is Tom Foy; he is the mechanic on our crew.

QUESTION: Describe (OFF-MIKE)

MAYHUGH: I can't even -- I mean, there was just lights and people. I had no idea there was this many people involved or...

QUESTION: Did you realize that there was going to be some sort of, you know, (UNINTELLIGIBLE).

MAYHUGH: I thought locally up to Pittsburgh, but I didn't think...

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: Can we ask your wife what the last four days were like for you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lots of ups and downs, but I just kept praying and I had good beliefs, and I knew that he was going to get through. I knew I couldn't lose my dad and my husband. I just knew it, so it wasn't your day.

MAYHUGH: She has to leave right now. We're going to take you right out this way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

SAN MIGUEL: Blaine Mayhugh usually kisses his wife goodbye before he goes to work in the mines in southwest Pennsylvania. He did not do that on Wednesday before he went down in that mine and got trapped for four days, but he did say that thoughts of God and his family kept him going, as well as, far as the physical aspects of this, staying huddled together with these other eight miners who were also trapped down there, his fellow miners trying to stay warm however they could.

He said that they were down to two lights by the time rescuers actually started cutting through there into the ceiling of the chamber where he was trapped. And they were having to use those very sparingly. He said that it was very, very noisy down there, but they could hear the drill and that's how they knew that help was indeed on the way.

You've been listening to some taped sound with Blaine Mayhugh, one of the nine miners who was trapped but early this morning rescued out from being under about 240 feet underneath the earth.

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