REMEMBERING THE LIVES LOST IN BROOKWOOD MINE DISASTER: 15 YEARS LATER
By WVUA 23 Student Reporter Madison MacLean
This week marks the 15th anniversary of one of the nation’s worst mining disasters. On Sept. 23, 2011, 13 miners were killed during multiple explosions at Jim Walter Resources Mine No. 5 in Brookwood.
Ten of those killed refused to evacuate, instead staying behind in an attempt to rescue several who were trapped after the first explosion.
United Mine Workers of America Representative Larry Spencer said miners form a brotherhood on the job, which is why so many refused to abandon some of their own.
“Coal miners are a tight-knit group,” he said. “And when one of them gets hurt they all get hurt. When this happened it was just something that was real hard for us to deal with.”
A memorial now stands at West Brookwood Church emblazoned with the names of the 13 miners who died: Gason Adams Jr., Raymond Ashworth, Nelson Banks, Davis Blevins, Clarence “Bit” Boyd, Wendell Johnson, John Knox, Dennis Mobley, Charles Nail, Joe Riggs, Charles Smith, Joe Sorah and Terry Stewart.
An annual memorial service is 5 p.m. Friday at West Brookwood Church.