Mine Safety and Health Administration
Contact: Amy Louviere
Phone: (202) 693-9423
Released Thursday, June 13, 2002
Lauriski Praises Mine Workers For Lifesaving Actions
VIRGINIA BEACH, VA.- Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health Dave D. Lauriski has presented the Joseph A. Holmes Safety Association's Life Saving Awards to 11 mine workers who have performed selfless acts of courage and heroism. "Following the events of September 11th, many of us have had to rethink exactly what defines a hero," Lauriski said. "The recipients of these awards are true heroes. They acted courageously, in some cases, risking their own lives to protect the lives of others." The award recipients were recognized last week at the 2002 Joint National Meeting of the Holmes Safety Association, the National Association of State Mine Inspection Agencies, and the Mine Safety Institute of America. Since 1916, the Holmes Safety Association, a voluntary organization, has striven to prevent injuries and improve health and safety among officials and employees in all phases of mining.
- In September 2001, Mike Day and Jesse Paul Viers rushed to assist their severely injured colleague at Pine Branch Coal Sales, Inc.'s #20 Strip Mine, near Hazard, Ky., during their lunch break after he was struck by a falling rock. The two men removed their shirts to control the injured miner's bleeding. If not for their quick thinking, it is doubtful their colleague would have survived.
- In December 2001, mine inspectors Terry and Troy Wolfgang rappelled 70 feet down an abandoned mine shaft in Pennsylvania's Northumberland County to rescue a person who had fallen into the shaft. At the time, underground mine fires were burning as close as 500 feet from the shaft.
- Also in December 2001, Andy Anderson, Johnny Hargrove, Vaughn Dennis, Greg Pelham, Terry McFadden, and Bruce May responded to a colleague suffering a heart attack while working on the dragline at TXU Mining Company's Beckville mine in Tatum, Texas.
- In January 1999, Larry Fithian, an employee with the Nevada Cement Company, saved a trapped passenger inside an overturned van engulfed by flames outside of Lovelock, Nevada.