UnNews:Asphyxiating miners send last messages to loved ones: 'ack, gaak urk'

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15 January 2009

Coaltown, WEST VIRGINIA What would you say to your loved ones if you were about to die?
Coalhelmet

West Virginia coal miner Steven Gorman, who imparted fatherly wisdom in the form of 'aagggg' in his last opportunity to speak to his son.

If you were one of the thirteen miners trapped in a collapsed mine in West Virginia, it might be something as poignant as "argh" or "huuuuh."

After three days of tireless rescue efforts, it was quickly becoming clear to workers that digging them out would be impossible. The collapsed shaft was losing oxygen fast, but the rescue team realized they could manage to drop a small amplification device into the mine. So, in an event tinged with sadness, a microphone was lowered deep into the cave and each miner was encouraged to say a few words of goodbye to their families and friends. Miner Robert Fitzpatrick was the first to step up the mic.

"I was so scared and worried," said Fitzpatrick's wife, Susan. "But then I heard Robert's voice and I just knew everything would be alright. He was comforting me, saying things like 'no... air...' and 'ugghhh'." What normally would be a just tearful goodbye became an uplifting moment as each miner stepped up to the microphone to say their poignant adieus to their families.

"My boy went third," said retired coal miner Elmer Fisher about his son, Jim. "Tough to the end, he was. Fighting spirit. 'Dad,' he said, 'ackkkk'."The miners all offered their various words of inspiration until all thirteen had spoken and the mic was pulled back up. The mic took several minutes to recover, as one miner may have been clinging to it.

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