SOMERSET COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — July 24 marks the 20th anniversary of a miraculous rescue mission when nine coal miners were saved, after being trapped in the Quecreek Mine.
The world’s eyes and ears were on Quecreek Mine as then Governor Mark Schweiker, who stayed at the scene during the nearly 80-hour mission, announced they were rescued.
His words were “nine for nine.”
“It was really a form of reassurance to their families,” Governor Schweiker said. “We were motivated by the idea that we would find out where they are, extricate them from the cavern, then reunite them with their families.”
The full interview with the former governor can be found in the video above.
Following the rescue, Schweiker said his goal was to “make sure Pennsylvania continues to be a national trailblazer in mine safety” and have “the safest mines in the world.” He said it’s a mission that will always need to be furthered.
“There’s never a state of perfection. It’s inherently a dangerous occupation,” Schweiker said. “That’s why it’s important operationally and funding-wise for the Department of Environmental Protection, particularly that unit dedicated to deep mine safety, is properly funded.”
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He said creating a robust library of mining maps is key, as he said that was a shortcoming at Quecreek.
“In a governmental and public policy sense, our outlook was we never want to see this happen again,” Schweiker noted.
Coal mining is an industry that built Pennsylvania into the commonwealth it is today and Schweiker encouraged all parties to continue pushing for safer working conditions.
“For the leadership and the management of those companies, treat your employees fairly with safety,” said Schweiker. “On the part of the miners themselves… voice your concerns.”