Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Cultivating Heartbreak

I am really torn about this post. I am dismayed about the events of last night in Tallmansville, WV, where 12 miners were reported to be alive and well, and then three hours later confirmed to be dead.

My wife and I were up at midnight when the news came in and we were delighted. My heart leapt at watching the people praise the name of Jesus and thank him for the believed deliverance, only to wake up to hear that 12 of the 13 had died and that the initial reports were wrong. Someone jumped the gun, didn't have their facts straight, and blabbed.

But what really got me was this (H.T. Drudge). The mining company knew within 20 minutes that the reports of survival were horribly incorrect. But they waited another 2 1/2 hours before breaking the news...a whole 2 1/2 hours to get worked up, to plan for celebrations, and to spend all of their emotional energy on a piece of fiction. Their explanation was that they wanted to get all of the correct information before going to the families. But I find that explanation to be entirely stupid.

It reflects the same incompetence with which the corporate officials maintained the mine (again, Drudge). The wisest solution would have been to throttle the fool who called the church, then to immediately contact the families to state that that report was not only unconfirmed, but that it was possibly incorrect. From there, they could confirm what they needed to, and then report the grim news that the families would already have prepared themselves to hear. They would have been spared the false hope and short-lived joy.

They didn't mean to hurt the families just like they didn't mean to leave these miners ill-equipped and unsafe for the disaster that took their lives. But because of their abject stupidity, both happened. A tragedy.

We mourn with you, Tallmansville.


Anonymous amr said...

From a FOX news in-depth report, the company operating the mine took over in November 2005; so if true, they inherited problems. The workers are not unionized but a union official was filmed actually giving a good impression of the company improving safety and that they were cited for only has minor violations. This will not matter for the lawyers who will approach the victim’s families, but since I have worked in the power industry for 40 years, my take is that the mining company was improving the site. I have seen, in the past, minor safety violations given for not having hand rails or fire extinguishers at the proper height. Therefore, I would give the mining company the benefit of the doubt, regardless of the industry’s past history. But yes, they may have waited too long to inform the families, but the way information was flowing, I might not have wanted to dash the family’s hopes and then find out that that info was also incorrect. The error was that someone gave the family incorrect information in the first place, apparently outside of the rescue group due to the open lines of communication that may have been garbled. That error was totally outside of the procedures for notifying the families and certainly placed the mining company and rescuers in an untenable situation.

9:55 PM  

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