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Hundreds join miners at church service

Monday, August 05, 2002

By The Associated Press

SOMERSET, Pa. -- Nine miners who spent more than three days in a flooded coal mine 240 feet underground joined hundreds of people at a church service last night to give thanks for their rescue a week ago.

The miners rescued from Quecreek Mine last week walk past a display of miners' helmets lit by candles during a service yesterday at Christ Casebeer Lutheran Church in Somerset. Hundreds of people attended the Sunday night service to give thanks for the rescue. (Keith Srakocic, Associated Press)

Family, friends and neighbors filled a small church about 100 yards from where the men were trapped for 78 hours in a cramped shaft at Quecreek Mine in Somerset County.

Early in the service, a man in a white T-shirt emblazoned with the word "America" lit 10 candles placed behind 10 miners' helmets on a table near the altar.

The candles were lit in honor of the nine miners who escaped immediately, thanks to a warning radioed to them by the trapped men. The 10th candle was lit for the person who guided those men to safety.

"These candles represent the vigilance of the nine who escaped and how they stayed vigilant while the other nine were still underground," said the Rev. Joseph Beer of Mount Laurel United Church of Christ.

Jerry Davis, an assistant district manager for the U.S. Mine Safety Health Administration, was one of the first on the scene and worked at the command center during the rescue.

"I spent a number of hours of my life here, three or four days. I wanted to share some of the blessings they received," Davis, 60, said following the service.

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