Not All Deaths Are Valued the Same in the Coal Mining Business - A Family In Need

Posted Dec 28, 2006 by Telafree

The West Virginia Sago mine disaster kept the country on the edge of it's seat and inspired many to send money to help the families left behind. That's not the way it is for every miner's death as families struggle to recover from a loved ones death
When Gloria Casella learned of the public support for the families left behind by the miners who were killed at the Sago mine, she was moved. She found out the hard way that 'not all mining deaths are treated equally.' The Sago Mine families received over 6 figures from the state of West Virginia in addition to the $3 million (US) a charitable foundation handed out. The needs of food and shelter, medical care and educational expenses were covered for the surviving members of the fallen coal miners. Casella was impressed by all of this and wrote a letter to the Gov. of her state, Pennsylvania. She proposed 'a similar fund for families of killed Pennsylvania miners.' If there was one thing Gloria can understand, it's going through the loss of a family member due to a mining accident. Three weeks before the Sago mine disaster, Casella's son, 30 year old Eric Hill, was killed in the Logansport Mine that he worked in. A roof collapsed on top of him and the grief of his death nearly overtook her. "There were days I couldn't even get out of bed. I don't know how many times a week I just wanted to die," Casella said during a recent visit to her son's gravesite. She ended up quitting her job because she couldn't bear to be out in public.
Three weeks after writing her letter, she received a response from the "Office of Income Maintenance". The letter was not exactly what she had been hoping for. Not only was her name misspelled but the office suggested that she apply for welfare. In her eyes, she felt the state's message in that letter was that '12 miners dying is a national tragedy, but one dying is barely a footnote.
'Why do mining deaths have to occur in quantity before families get extra help?"
This article continues on with Gloria's story, but I found this to be an important article not only because it is unfair to those suffering from the loss of their loved ones in mining accidents, but also because my pops was a coal miner for 30 years. Something needs to be done to help those who are still toiling in the mines. They are doing the back breaking hard labor that is invisible to the world until a large group of them die. I hope that this story will help to at least start a discussion of what can be done. Perhaps a country wide fund for coal miners? Who knows, but hopefully things will get better for people like Gloria sooner then later.