From Staff Reports
Today is the fourth anniversary of the Upper Big Branch mine disaster that claimed the lives of 29 men.
A formal memorial service is not being held in Whitesville this year, but visitors are encouraged to place wreaths from dawn to dusk at the Whitesville memorial.
For more information about the memorial, visit www.ubbminersmemorial.com.
The 29 men who lost their lives are as follows: Carl Calvin “Pee Wee” Acord, Jason Atkins, Christopher Bell, Gregory Steven Brock, Kenneth A. Chapman, Robert E. Clark, Cory Thomas Davis, Charles Timothy Davis, Michael Lee “Cuz” Elswick, William Ildon “Bob” Griffith, Steven “Smiley” Harrah, Edward Dean Jones, Richard K. Lane, William Roosevelt Lynch, Joe Marcum, Ronald Lee Maynor, Nicholas Darrell McCroskey, James E. “Eddie” Mooney, Adam Keith Morgan, Rex L. Mullins, Joshua Scott Napper, Howard D. “Boone” Payne, Dillard Earl “Dewey” Persinger, Joel R. “Jody” Price, Gary Wayne Quarles, Deward Allan Scott, Grover Dale Skeens, Benny Ray Willingham and Ricky Workman.
Rep. Nick Rahall, D-W.Va., said, “On the fourth anniversary of the tragic explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine, I am reminded of the good men we lost far too young, of those injured, of the families that still mourn and the communities that were forever altered. The Upper Big Branch miners are still owed our full energies and every effort to ensure that such a tragedy will never occur again. Failing to legislate to close safety loopholes exploited by Massey is akin to condoning the corrupt culture that resulted in so many unnecessary fatalities.
“There is much more to defending coal country than fighting against the EPA. To be a champion for coal, one has to be a champion for the coal miner. Defense of the coal miner cannot stop at the mouth of the mine. It also must follow him into the mine, ensuring that working conditions are as safe and healthy as we possibly can make them. Our obligation to the 29 souls we lost four years ago is long overdue,” Rahall added.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., stated, “We must be focused only on remembering the 29 men whom we tragically lost four years ago — and the families they left behind, who live every day with heartbreak because of that horrific disaster. Along with West Virginians everywhere, Sharon and I are praying for the friends and loved ones of the Upper Big Branch miners, and for the community that was forever changed by the tragedy.”
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., added, “Four years ago, 29 brave miners — proud fathers, strong brothers, beloved sons and honest neighbors — went to work and never came home to their loved ones. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about that day. As governor at the time, I joined our entire nation as we grieved with their families for their tremendous loss, and today, with heavy hearts, we remember and honor their courage and the incredible strength of their families. Our hearts are still broken, and we will never forget their sacrifice.
“This day will always serve as a reminder — a reminder of the love shared for our fallen brothers, a reminder that life is often too short and a reminder that we must always put safety first. The health and safety of our miners will always be our top priority, because no family should ever endure a preventable tragedy like the one at Upper Big Branch again. Although we have much to mourn today, Gayle and I — and all West Virginians — honor the memories of the dedicated souls who lost their lives, as well as their colleagues who continue their work with respect and dignity. Today, we pray for continued strength for the families who lost loved ones on that awful day,” Manchin said.