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A Miner's Mother on Risks, Tragic Loss

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A Miner's Mother on Risks, Tragic Loss


A Miner's Mother on Risks, Tragic Loss

A Miner's Mother on Risks, Tragic Loss

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Helen Winans, the mother of miner Marshall Winans who died in the Sago mine in the town of Tallmansville, W. Va., speaks with Alex Chadwick about her loss. Marshall Winans was one of 12 men who died after being trapped below ground when an explosion sealed the mine.


Among the dead in Tallmansville, West Virginia, is 50-year-old Marshall Winans. And earlier today we spoke with his mother; her name is Helen Winans.

Ms. Winans, first, we're sorry for your loss.

Ms. HELEN WINANS (Marshall Winans' Mother): No words can describe it.

CHADWICK: Were you at that church last night where people were celebrating when word came...

Ms. WINANS: Yes, I was.

CHADWICK: What happened?

Ms. WINANS: Well, just some damn person--I don't know whether they done it out of smartness or whether they thought they knew what they were talking about--came through the church a-hollering, `They're all alive!'

CHADWICK: And how long was it before you learned that that was, unfortunately, not the truth?

Ms. WINANS: Three hours.

CHADWICK: Three hours.

Ms. WINANS: Yes.

CHADWICK: After that three hours, what happened? How did you learn that this was not the case?

Ms. WINANS: A guy from the mines came in and the governor.

CHADWICK: And what did they say?

Ms. WINANS: They said it was untrue.

CHADWICK: What was that moment in that church, all these families there thinking they had good news?

Ms. WINANS: Well, you can imagine when there was a--the church was full.

CHADWICK: You know, I can't imagine. I just can't imagine that moment. It seems like it--the most cruel moment in the world.

Ms. WINANS: Definitely. Definitely.

CHADWICK: I heard that you have another son who has died on a gas rig.

Ms. WINANS: Yes.

CHADWICK: Natural gas.

Ms. WINANS: Yes.

CHADWICK: Do you have other sons who work in mines?

Ms. WINANS: No. One works on a strip job, running the dozer, and the other one works for J.F. Allen, a rock quarry and works on-the-road job.

CHADWICK: Those are all kind of dangerous jobs.

Ms. WINANS: Anything you go at is dangerous.

CHADWICK: You must have other relatives who work for the mines, though.

Ms. WINANS: No. Thank God.

CHADWICK: You don't?


CHADWICK: Did you tell your son that he should get out of the mine?

Ms. WINANS: I didn't want him to go back in it.

CHADWICK: You didn't?

Ms. WINANS: But he says that's what he likes.

CHADWICK: I guess if your son tells you that's what he likes to do, and that's what provides the best living in that town, it's...

Ms. WINANS: That's what you do.

CHADWICK: That's what you do.

Ms. WINANS: That's what you do.

CHADWICK: What are you going to do now?

Ms. WINANS: Same as I did when I lost my other one. Life goes on. You cope with it.

CHADWICK: Well, Ms. Winans, we're sorry for your loss and good luck to you there in the town.

Ms. WINANS: Thank you.

CHADWICK: Helen Winans, mother of Marshall Winans, who died in the Sago coal mine in West Virginia.

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