Friday, August 17, 2007

What To Say?

Three dead in in a massive outburst of rock pressure in the Crandall Canyon rescue attempt. Two miners and an employeee of MSHA. Several more injured, including another MSHA employee. Rescue operations suspended. Salt Lake Tribune:

Among the dead were miners Brandon Kimber and Dale R. Black. Kimber is a father of three from Price; Black is 48 and from Huntington. The identity of an MSHA employee killed in the cave-on has not been released.

There will be a time for investigations; for analysis; for meticulous unraveling of the details. There will be a time for debates about engineering and rock mechanics, about the performance of the instutitions involved, and about the role, if any, of politics. Many questions will have to be asked and answered in time.

But for one moment, let us suspend all of that.

For one moment, let us simply reflect on the lost rescuers, their families, their friends, their co-workers and their community. Imagine the agony that must be in their hearts.

Those who have poured their energies and their souls into the difficult and dangerous rescue effort for more than 10 days probably number by now in the hundreds. Taking part in the response to a mine emergency has always brought out the most shining qualities among many of the emergency workers, miners, managers, technical specialists, and numbers of people in the community at large. That is true in success or failure.

Too often in the past, rescuers have been unable to reach missing miners in time to save their lives. And that is a shattering, searing experience, as I know first-hand, from being with the rescue attempt after the Southmountain Mine explosion in 1992.

And now, loss of life among the hard-working, supremely courageous individuals serving with the rescue crews -- this is devastating. The personal desolation is deepest for their families and friends, of course. But let us remember, everyone involved with the tragedy is, without a doubt, suffering to the very soul. Indeed, the whole mining community is hurting for these losses.

Words fail; just for a moment, only silence seems a tribute adequate to this grief.

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