Coal Tattoo

The Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster, April 5, 2010

Three years ago this afternoon, an explosion tore through Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine in Raleigh County, W.Va. Twenty-nine coal miners died and two others were seriously injured.

For many of us, it’s just another day. At best, it’s a time to revisit the disaster and ask questions about why more hasn’t been done to prevent another one — or to stop the needless one-by-one death of miners across the coalfields. All too soon, April 5 will be just another date marked on the long, disgraceful calendar of this nation’s record of preventable mine explosions, fires and other disasters. As Sen. Robert C. Byrd said after the previous disasters at Sago and Aracoma:

First, the disaster. Then the weeping. Then the outrage. And we are all too familiar with what comes next. After a few weeks, when the cameras are gone, when the ink on the editorials has dried, everything returns to business as usual. The health and the safety of America’s coal miners, the men and women upon whom the Nation depends so much, is once again forgotten until the next disaster.

But for those who lost loved ones, April 5 is now forever the day that they became a widow or an orphan, the day they lost their son or their best friend.  Here’s the list of those men who died so needlessly three years ago today:

Carl Calvin Acord

Jason Atkins

Christopher Bell

Gregory Steven Brock

Kenneth Allan Chapman

Robert E. Clark

Cory Thomas Davis

Charles Timothy Davis

Michael Lee Elswick

William Ildon Griffith

Steven 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 Napper

Howard D. Payne

Dillard Earl Persinger

Joel R. Price

Gary Wayne Quarles

Deward Allan Scott

Grover Dale Skeens

Benny Ray Willingham

Ricky Workman

And here’s a slideshow that the Gazette’s Doug Imbrogno previously put together with photos of all of the miners: