How rescuers saved trapped Pennsylvania miners in 2002

  • Source: TribLIVE
  • Published: 07/22/2022 12:00 AM

VIDEO/PHOTOS: Brad Hillegass had operated a crane plenty of times but never with the lives of nine men in the balance. That changed July 24, 2002, when nine miners were trapped 240 feet underground at the Quecreek Mine in Somerset County and his job was to safely lift them to freedom one-by-one in a slim, yellow, metal capsule through a precariously narrow shaft dug by rescuers. Hillegass’ challenges were many, not least of which was that the rescue capsule, which had never been used before, might get hung up on the shaft. There also were concerns that hoisting the miners too quickly might result in decompression sickness. With all that on the line, Hillegass practiced — over and over again — with the rescue capsule until the call came that the hole to the miners was completed and rescuers had spoken with the trapped men. It was time.


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