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7 Years Later, Upshur County Community Still Honoring Those Lost in Sago Mine Disaster
Written by Lindsey Burnworth
Last updated on January 02, 2013 @ 6:42PM
Created on January 02, 2013 @ 6:18PM
Wednesday marked 7 years since the Sago Mine disaster in Upshur County. In the years since the tragedy, people in the community have done their best to remember the 12 miners who were killed.
 
Initial reports in 2006 said 12 miners were alive and only one was dead. Cheers and tears of joy and relief quickly followed.
 
That all changed several hours later when it became clear only one had survived and the other 12 were killed.
 
"I have a neighbor that was in that disaster, he lived down on the next street below me. It was rough," said Buckhannon resident, Ella Mackey.
 
"Everyone was panicking, everyone was depressed. It was a terrible time, everyone I talked to was depressed, and we watched the TV all the time, we tried to keep up on it at the time, and it was a terrible thing," said Gary Thorpe of French Creek.
 
That tragic day in 2006 caused the Upshur County community to come together to face the tragedy that had put them in the national spotlight. Days following the disaster were difficult for everyone around the area.
 
"Everyone sticks together. People are really into community. West Virginian's really help each other out, and it was really a community effort. Everyone, including the governor, was up here. It was quite a deal," said Thorpe.
 
"Everyone at the church took food down to her, and we tried to console her, but there wasn't anything we could do or say. There's nothing you can say," said Mackey.
 
A lot has changed since the tragedy. There were 19 mining deaths in 2012, the second lowest total in more than a decade. More safety regulations have been put in place to make sure nothing like this happens again. But some say even one death is too many.
 
"Some of it is, but there's a lot that should be helped. We have enough regulations, we just need to enforce them," said Robert Jackson of Buckhannon.
 
"I think they could do more, but yet sometimes, like the rest of us, they get neglectful, and think everything's okay," said Mackey.

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