This month celebrates the fifth anniversary of the accident at the Quecreek mine in Pennsylvania that nearly took the lives of nine miners. Their miraculous escape after 77 hours of being trapped underground became a sensational story across the nation.

This weekend, the event was celebrated at the Arnold Farm in Somerset, Pennsylvania followed by festivities honoring the men who managed to survive against all odds.

There was music and poetry readings along with appearances by the miners and former Pennsylvania Governor Mark Schweiker who led the rescue efforts and whose run as governor was defined by the event. Joseph Sbaffoni, director of deep mine safety for the state Department of Environmental Protection was also present for the event. Only survivor Mark Popernack was not present for the celebration. He and the family have gone on vacation on this week each year since the accident.

Popernack now works as a truck dispatcher for PBS Coals, Inc. He and the other miners all took lesser paying jobs or retirement after the accident. They also each received $150,000 from Disney for the movie rights to their story, the TV movie titled The Pennsylvania Miners’ Story.

The celebration began at 9:30 a.m. with guided tours of the Monument for Life in honor of the men. There was also a flag-raising ceremony by the local Boy Scouts and demonstrations of rescue operations. Aside from Schweiker and Sbaffoni, Jim Burton of WJAC-TV hosted the event. There was also music by the Milford United Methodist Children’s Bell Choir, Cathi Casale as “Patsy Cline,” and Dan & Galla. “Mountain John” of Somerset recited his poem “The Quecreek Mine Rescue.” Last year, the date was celebrated by the induction of the Monument for Life, a blue and gold marker, which was recognized by the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission as part of the Historical Marker Program.

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