William “Griff” Griffith
William “Bob” Griffith came from a family of miners, went into the mines as a young man with his father and worked there like his brothers.
“He learned from the best,” said Griffith’s brother, Mike, who explained how the trade was a family tradition.
William Griffith lived in Glen Rogers with his wife, Marlene, and raised a son and daughter, said James Griffith, another of the late miner’s brothers. When he wasn’t working, Griffith and his wife were fixing up their 1967 Camaro.
His nephew, Jason Griffith, remembered his uncle’s smile.
He was “always laughing, carrying on, joking,” Jason said.
Steve Harrah — known to his co-workers as “Smiley” — was “always thoughtful and would give you a hand,” his father-in-law said.
The 40-year-old enjoyed hunting deer in Pocahontas County, said father-in-law Jack Bowden Jr., who also is director of the Raleigh County Emergency Operating Center. Harrah lived in Cool Ridge with his kindergarten-age son, Zach, and wife of 10 years, Tammy.
His sister, Betty Harrah, said other workers thought of her brother as a good boss.
“He wouldn’t ask them to do anything he wouldn’t get down in there and do,” she said.
Harrah was leaving the mine when the explosion happened.
An avid outdoorsman, Rick Lane was content tending to his horses and cattle on a 25-acre farm in Cool Ridge.
Missy Schoolcraft, Lane’s cousin, said Lane always fed everyone else’s horses in the winter. And when she had a horse that was lame, Lane would take care of it on his farm.
“He had a heart of gold,” said Schoolcraft, whose husband was best friends with him for more than two decades. “He gave us so much.”
The 45-year-old Lane, a longwall production foreman, had been with parent company Massey for about four years and worked at the Upper Big Creek mine for about a year. He and his wife, Kim, have a 23-year-old son and a 9-month-old grandson.