After Being Told 12 Men Had Survived, Friends and Family Told Only One Is Alive
I can only image the grief the families have. Having a sense of relief, only have it smashed, makes the grief worse. But it was a terrible miscommunication, nothing more. Everybody had hope that those men survived, and in that hope, "they were found" turned into "they survived," but that is what they wanted to hear.Jan. 4, 2006 —*Family members and friends of 12 men who died in a mine collapse in West Virginia are furious with officials for what is being called a "miscommunication."
Late last night, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin announced that 11 or 12 of the miners who had been trapped by a blast early Monday morning had survived, triggering widespread jubilation in the close-knit mining community of Tallmansville....
Somehow, there was an awful miscommunication: Rescuers had not confirmed that 12 were alive, but that 12 were found and that they were being checked for vital signs.
"They didn't have any certainties, and the time has elapsed because they were trying to get more information before giving information that was wrong or erroneous," said Manchin, about why the families were not given accurate information right after the mistake was made.
Hatfield blamed the wrong information on a "miscommunication."...
Family members are demanding answers.
"I call this injustice," said Ann Meredith, a relative of a miner. "I will tell you right here now, I am going to sue."
The sadness turned to rage with some of the community members turning on officials. There were reports of fistfights. A SWAT team and about 12 state police officers waited nearby. A Red Cross volunteer, Tamila Swiger, said some people were experiencing nervous breakdowns and panic attacks.
"Tell us our families are coming out alive and then one of them comes out and the rest of them dead," said Daniele Bennett, whose father was killed in the mine. "That's not even right."
In times of severe grief, it seems common that people need to place blame on someone to direct grief into anger to cope with their loss. When you have someone to blame, it's easier to deal with problems than having to deal with, "it was an accident" and "these things happen."
A couple years ago, a friend of mine commited suicide. He called me on the phone right before he did it. I scrambled for 911 and had to be rerouted out of state, since my friend lived in a different state. My friend had told me to call his relatives to tell them what he had done, and after talking to 911 for eternity, I had to make the terrible call to his relatives. I received an answering machine message several times, and I hung up on it. It was around 1/2 hour to an hour later when I finally decided I had no choice but to leave a message, telling them what happened and that I called an ambulance.
It was a week later when I was woken up at 6:30am by my phone ringing. It was the relative I left the message with.
How dare you traumatize my family. Don't you know we were at church when you called? We came home to read That Message from you. How dare you leave a message like that for us to hear when we came home. Do you have any idea what you put us through? My husband had a heart attack recently and he didn't need this stress, and so-and-so had to go on medications. You planned this. You conspired with him for his suicide. If you ever call here again, I'm going to call the police, and then I'm going to get my lawyer...
My head swam in shock, and I interjected that I did what I was told to do, and if it was better if I left his body on the floor, called nobody, and they ended up finding him days later. She hung up.