updated 1/5/2006 11:32:22 AM ET 2006-01-05T16:32:22

Guests: Susan Long, Dennis O‘Dell, Susan Sublett, Zalman Shovall, Holly Phillips, Christa Green, Richard Kiley, Charles Olson, Burton Hunter

RITA COSBY, HOST:  Good evening, everybody.  Again, I‘m here again in West Virginia in front of the Sago mine, where tonight family members are seething and they are outraged after the emotional roller-coaster that they have been taken on in the last 24 hours or so.  And what a horrible night it has been for them.  We were with them through it all.

We are also closely watching tonight the state of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon, who at this hour is fighting for his life.  He is in serious condition at the hospital after suffering another major stroke.  We will have breaking developments out of the Middle East.

But first, the very latest here in West Virginia.  A somber candlelight vigil has just finished at the local church, where family members and friends of the miners prayed and wept over their enormous loss of 12 fine men from this very tight-knit community.  Many people are also furious at this hour, after first being told that their loved ones were alive, thinking that for three jubilant hours, and then told the sobering truth, that there was an error in communication to the command center for the mining company, that only one miner survived.

Today, the company‘s owner was hammered by the press, and he apologized for not telling families sooner that there was a horrible and very big mistake.


BEN HATFIELD, INTERNATIONAL COAL GROUP:  At approximately 2:00 AM, within minutes of learning that the initial reports may have been correct -

may have been incorrect, state police officers were notified and asked to notify the clergy at the church where the families were gathered, that the initial reports may have been too optimistic.  Based upon our information, at least some of the clergy received that message, but it clearly did not get effectively relayed to the people that needed it most, the miners‘ families.  They needed good information, and we were trying to get them good information.  And in the process of being cautious, we allowed the jubilation to go on longer than it should have.  And that‘s just all I can say about it.

We made what we believed to be the best decisions, based on the information available, while working under extreme stress and physical exhaustion.  We sincerely regret the manner in which the events unfolded early this morning.


COSBY:  And joining us now is Dennis O‘Dell.  He‘s with the United Mine Workers association, who was in the command center when this horrible mistake went down.  First of all, Dennis, walk us through.  You were there.  Walk us through when you first heard right before midnight the good news. 

What happened?

DENNIS O‘DELL, UNITED MINE WORKERS OF AMERICA :  Initially, we heard that the message came out that all 12 miners were found.

COSBY:  And how did that message come out?  What‘d it say?

O‘DELL:  What you have to understand is you have a mine rescue team at the face that actually found the bodies where they were discovered.

COSBY:  They were deep under the ground?

O‘DELL:  Under ground, exactly where the bodies were found.  What they did was, they radioed back to what they call the fresh air base, and they radioed back to the fresh air base what happened.  That fresh air base—and these are underground—the radios that they use, hand-held radios they use underground.  At that point, the fresh air base mine rescue teams telephoned outside to the command center.

Now, I talked to the group of men that found the bodies.  They said what they had said was that, We found the 12 bodies.  One is alive.  But somehow, at the fresh air base, what the miners heard was, We found 12 bodies, all are alive.  That‘s the message that went to the command center outside.  When the command center outside heard, found 12 bodies are alive, immediately, everybody erupted, screaming, joyous.  You know, they asked them to repeat the information again.  They got the message that all 12 bodies have been found.  Everybody‘s alive.

COSBY:  Then about 30 minutes past, and then what happened at that point?

O‘DELL:  Actually, it was less than less time than that.  We found out probably within a 15 to 20-minute period that that wasn‘t the case, that the 12 were found, and all were dead but one.  One was alive.

COSBY:  How come?  The big question tonight—and I know this isn‘t your fault, but a lot of people are asking the company that owns the mine and others, Why didn‘t you run over to the families?  You heard the church bells ringing.  You heard them cheering and saying—Wait, wait, wait, we may have been wrong, even if you didn‘t know quite what you had at that point.

O‘DELL:  And that should have been the case.  But I think you need to back up and take it a step further.  All investigations that we‘ve been involved in—and I‘ve been involved in numerous investigations such as this, as Jim Walter Resources (ph) -- you always confirm the information that you get at the command center.

The company officials are the ones that have to report their findings to the news media, to the family members and what have you.  At the point that they heard all 12 members were alive, rather than let that information be leaked out to the press, to the family members, to whoever, they should have confirmed the information and made sure what they had was accurate.  You can‘t blame the mine rescue team members underground because the team at the face that found the bodies said, We called, we said we found 12 bodies, one is alive.

COSBY:  (INAUDIBLE) the confirmation by the company was not done immediately.

O‘DELL:  Yes.  The next step was, that went from radio to the fresh air.  They said what they heard was, We found 12 bodies.  All are alive.  One alive, all alive.  It gets outside all alive, without confirming that and without taking action to make sure it‘s—that what they had—immediately, phone calls were made by cell phones.  There was a company official that ran down and talked to some of the church members.

I mean, it‘s a natural thing to be excited because your hopes are that everybody was alive.  But in investigations like this, you have to have your facts.  You have to know what you‘re talking about.  You can‘t take information like this lightly.  At that point in time, the company should have closed everything off, made sure what they heard was correct before that first message went out.

COSBY:  You bet.

O‘DELL:  After it went out, what they should have done, rather than wait three hours, was go down and talk to the family members, instead of letting them continue to believe the hopes that everybody had had...

COSBY:  Absolutely.  And I think that‘s one of the biggest tragedies.


COSBY:  Stick with us.  I want to ask you a few more questions.  I want to show everybody at home because you and I were sort of with this through this all.  Everybody at home, let‘s show you what happened last night.  Let‘s show, unfortunately, the anguish, then the hopes and then the hopes dashed.  This is what happened in the wee hours of the morning.


COSBY:  We‘re just getting word now of some breaking news crossing the AP wires at this moment,that apparently, they have located one body inside the mine.

HATFIELD:  Unfortunately, we have not yet been able to identify and confirm the deceased miner‘s identity.  Plans are to bring the body out as soon as possible, and identification may proceed removal of the body.

COSBY:  We have some stunning news that we have just learned.  NBC

News and the Associated Press are confirming information that the 12 miners

remember, 12 were missing as of a few moments ago—that they are alive.  This is incredible news that we are just learning.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Did you hear the church bells?  Oh, God!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Praise the Lord~!  They‘re alive!  They‘re alive!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We were setting here in the vehicle, and somebody come running down through there, screaming, They‘re all alive!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  All we heard was, Praise the lord.  We got them out.  That‘s all we heard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  It wasn‘t very hopeful at the beginning.  We was pretty well wondering what was going to happen, and now we got our hopes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right now, we‘re going to go to NBC‘s Ron Allen with late-breaking news.  Ron, what‘s going on?

RON ALLEN, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  What‘s happened seems to be terrible, and I just want to make sure that we‘ve got this right.  There‘s a big meeting going on at the church, where all the families are.  They‘re coming out.  They are distraught.  One relative said that they are saying that there are not a lot of survivors.

COSBY:  I‘ve been talking to family members, Bill.  And if this is, indeed, the case, now that they‘re finding out, after being told that 12 of them are alive, and now finding out that 11 are dead, what a roller-coaster, what a horrible experience for these family members.

HATFIELD:  The initial report from the rescue team to the command center indicated multiple survivors, but that information proved to be a miscommunication.  The only confirmed survivor is Randal L. McCloy, Jr., who has now been rushed to a local hospital in serious condition.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Let me tell you, people, this is wrong!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We were told that there were 12 survivors.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They straight out lied to millions of people watching, and all the families here.  As you can tell, there‘s probably 20,000 people waiting for good news, and we got it, and it was nothing but lies.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Our family is dead because they lied to us!


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We don‘t even know if there is a Lord anymore. 

We had a miracle, and it was taken away from us.  What happened, people? 

Tell me!

HATFIELD:  What happened is that through stray cell phone conversations, it appears that this miscommunication from the rescue team underground to the command center was picked up by various people who simply overheard the conversation, was relayed through cell phone communications without our ever having made a release.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  We will make sure that we do everything to correct whatever had happened that we can, the best that we can.  We knew the odds were against us.  I kept praying for that miracle, and I believe in miracles.  I still believe in miracles, and we did have one miracle.


COSBY:  And what an incredible and just emotional and horrible, tragic night that it turned out to be.  And we were there through it all.  Dennis, you were also there.  Right when we were running the piece, you told me some astounding news.  You actually said to, what, company officials or other folks, Go back to the families, tell them this isn‘t the case.

O‘DELL:  Yes.  What happened was, it had been a long period of time—once we found out that the information—we heard the church bells.  We knew people were celebrating.  When we got the information back that it wasn‘t true, I mean, we went from a cloud 9 to, you know, the great feeling we had down to the very bottom.  I mean, it was just gut-wrenching.  It was sickening.

So I hadn‘t spoken to my wife for—since 4:30 that morning, so I called her to let her know I was OK.  And she told me that on TV, they were reporting that the bodies were found and they‘re alive.  And I said, Honey, no, they found all of them.  One of them‘s alive.  The rest are dead.  She said, I‘m telling you, the TV keeps reporting.

After I hung up, I talked to my field rep.  He called his wife.  She told him the same thing.  So I went to Amgen (ph).  I went to (INAUDIBLE) and I said, Hey, guys, the news agencies are reporting all bodies are found.  All—somebody needs to take the bull by the horns and get to the families, and company officials...

COSBY:  (INAUDIBLE) real quickly.

O‘DELL:  ... need—they went.  And I thought they went to address the company officials, to make sure that they notified.  Three hours later nothing was said until three hours later.

COSBY:  Dennis O‘Dell...

O‘DELL:  It‘s just (INAUDIBLE)

COSBY:  ... what a tragic, tragic thing.


COSBY:  Thank you so much for recounting and giving us some firsthand details.  We appreciate it.  And I talked to those rescue workers, who really did work their hearts out.  Thank you so much.

O‘DELL:  Oh, absolutely.  People need to really realize, mine rescue workers are the best in the world.  They put their lives on the line, and they need to be patted on the back.

COSBY:  You bet.

O‘DELL:  Absolutely.

COSBY:  Thank you very much.  We appreciate it.

And of course, everybody‘s thinking about the families tonight, just how difficult and painful this ordeal has been for them.  In fact, as we said at the top of the show, a vigil, a beautiful candlelight vigil just finished up just a short bit ago about a mile away from here.  And lots of family members, friends came out, paying respects to the 12 miners who perished.

And the man who organized it now joins me, Sean Sublett.  Sean, why did you think this was an important thing to do?

SEAN SUBLETT, FRIEND OF THE MINERS:  Oh, I knew some of the men that was underground, trapped.  And we worked with them together for a couple of years.  Some of the guys at mines where I work at ended up, you know, you know, knowing a lot of them.  So figured it‘d be something nice for us to kind of get a little closure...


SUBLETT:  ... the families.

COSBY:  Do you think it helped the family members (INAUDIBLE)

SUBLETT:  I think it helped, yes, and the community, yes, and—I really do.  And so...

COSBY:  What do you think is the toughest thing they‘re going through?  I mean, you know, I cannot imagine, first, the horrible loss, and then, I mean, the tug-of-war, this emotional tug-of-war that they went through.

SUBLETT:  Oh, I couldn‘t even imagine.  I was underground when we got the news and was told that 12 was alive.  And then after we got—after we got to—back to work and, you know, cheers and celebrated a little bit, we went back to work.  And about three hours later, we got a call—a little after 3:00 o‘clock, we got a call and was told that only one was alive and the rest were deceased.

COSBY:  What are the family members saying to you?  What did they say to you just a short bit ago?

SUBLETT:  They just told me thank you, and it helped them.  And they -

you know, some of them did come up and speak and for the (INAUDIBLE), you know, God bless them for the things they said and the way they appreciate -

just everybody down there was really, really kind.  I‘d like to thank Reverend Day (ph) for letting me hold the service there and for the kind words he said and his ministry.  It was just awesome.  It was beautiful.

COSBY:  Well, it was a beautiful service.

SUBLETT:  Thank you.

COSBY:  And I think it‘s going to be the beginning of a lot of memorial services that are going to happen in this community.  And it was a great start, and hats off to you for planning that, too.

SUBLETT:  Thank you.

COSBY:  It was a beautiful service.  It was nice for us to see it, too, firsthand.  Thank you.

And combing up, the good news that came out of all of this, one survivor, miraculously.  A 27-year-old miner, the youngest one of them all.  We‘re going to talk to one of his relatives to see how he is doing tonight.

But first, we‘re also going to go LIVE AND DIRECT to Israel, where Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is clinging to life.  He is in very serious condition tonight.  What does that mean for the Middle East?  We‘re going to go live to Israel when we come back.


COSBY:  Some major breaking news taking place tonight out of the Middle East.  Current prime minister Ariel Sharon of Israel is now back in the hospital in very grave condition after suffering a second stroke in less than three weeks.  We are told his condition, again, is very serious.

Joining us now live from Tel Aviv is NBC correspondent Martin Fletcher from our NBC Tel Aviv bureau.  Martin, what is the latest from there?

MARTIN FLETCHER, NBC CORRESPONDENT:  Well, Rita, as you say, it is very serious.  A hospital source tells NBC News that Sharon‘s beginning to undergo massive organ failure, and now aides to the prime minister say all they can do is hope for a miracle.


(voice-over):  Tonight, a desperate dash from Ariel Sharon‘s farm in the Negev Desert to Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem.  It took an hour, and during that time, Sharon‘s condition worsened.  He complained of a pain and pressure in the chest, but in the hospital, he was unconscious and hospital officials say his life appears in danger.

DR. SHLOMO MOR-YOSEF, DIRECTOR, HADASSAH HOSPITAL:  The prime minister was diagnosed with hemorrhagic stroke with massive bleeding.  He was not—he was transferred to the operating theater for an operation.

FLETCHER:  This follows a mild stroke Sharon suffered two-and-a-half weeks ago.  Doctors then said there was no lasting damage, but they did find a hole in the walls of the heart and scheduled an operation for tomorrow.  Sharon went straight back to work and joked he‘d go on a diet.  But nobody is joking tonight.

As Ariel Sharon lies unconscious, the reigns of power passed to this man, Ehud Olmert, the deputy prime minister.  Olmert is a long-time politician from the right-wing Likud Party, who agrees with all of Sharon‘s recent plans to change track and give up land in return for progress towards peace with the Palestinians.  Olmert followed Sharon when Sharon stunned the nation and left the Likud Party.  He founded a new party to speed up peace talks with the Palestinians.

Elections are scheduled for March 28, but now Sharon‘s life is in the balance, and nobody knows what would happen to the new party he founded.


Sharon‘s new party is way ahead in the polls, but it‘s virtually a one-man party.  And if Sharon does die or can‘t continue as prime minister, nobody knows what will happen to Israel‘s government or to the encouraging moves that Sharon was making towards peace—Rita.

COSBY:  Martin, thank you very much.  Please keep us posted.  If there‘s anything else, please come back to us later on in the show.

And joining us now live on the phone from Israel is Zalman Shoval.  He‘s a current senior aid to the prime minister and also a former ambassador to the United States from that country.  Mr. Shoval, what are you hearing about the fate of the prime minister?  How is he doing?

ZALMAN SHOVAL, SENIOR AIDE TO SHARON:  First of all, hello, Rita.  Well, he‘s still on the operating table.  And you know, some of the reports try be a bit more optimistic, but that‘s a very relative term, as the situation is very serious.  We won‘t know for some time how things actually develop there.

COSBY:  What‘s the mood amongst his aides like yourself and his inner circle? I know you‘ve known him for a long time, Mr. Shoval.

SHOVAL:  Yes, well, I‘ve known him for a long time.  Right now, actually, I‘m not with him because since he left the party and I remained in the Likud Party, we have parted ways.  But personally, we are very close.  Just a few days ago, I got a personal note from him, and he seemed to be in good spirits.  Obviously, you know, the mood everywhere in Israel, I think, even amongst people who opposed some of his policies, is very grave.  He‘s easily the most respected person in Israel, and everybody hopes for the best but fears for the worst.

COSBY:  Is there a sense that he may not be able to run his country, that this may be it, unfortunately?

SHOVAL:  Yes.  Well, actually, definitely, the sense that he may—even in the best of cases, may be out of the running of the country, certainly for some time, perhaps permanently, is something which I think affects all Israelis.  It will affect Israeli politics in the next few weeks.  And we‘ll have to wait and see how things develop.  After all, Sharon is a very dominant figure not just in the Middle East but—and not even—you know, certainly, not only in Israel, but in world politics.  He has a close relationship with President Bush.  And a lot of what‘s going to happen in the Middle East, or what‘s supposedly going to happen, really turns on Sharon‘s personality and on his ability to move things.

COSBY:  Absolutely.  Well, Zalman Shoval, we‘re praying, of course, for and all those folks who know, and of course, the prime minister himself tonight.  He‘s certainly in our prayers.  Thank you very much.  And please keep us posted.

And joining us now is Dr. Holly Phillips.  She‘s a general internist with Lennox Hill Hospital in New York City.  Doctor, how bad does it look?

DR. HOLLY PHILLIPS, LENNOX HILL HOSPITAL, NEW YORK CITY:  You know, based all of the reports we‘re getting from the doctors there in Israel, Prime Minister Sharon has a very grave prognosis.  We understand that he suffered a serious cerebral hemorrhage.  That involves bleeding on the brain.  And more recently, we‘ve learned that he‘s suffering multi-organ system failure.  The combination of the two makes his prognosis extremely grave.

COSBY:  Can his body, do you think, withstand this?  This is his second stroke in less than three weeks.  Certainly, it must be very grave.

PHILLIPS:  Well, I‘m sure he‘s getting the very best care possible, and we must hope for the best.  But realistically, such a severe hemorrhagic stroke is a very, very serious medical condition.  To make a full recovery from this would be more of a remote possibility.  We just have to hope, at this stage, that he survives it and is able to make some recovery.

COSBY:  Absolutely.  You know, I‘ve met the prime minister a number of times.  He‘s a big man.  He‘s over 300 pounds.  Did his weight have anything to do with now the second stroke?

PHILLIPS:  Well, that—you know, it‘s very difficult to say, as of -

obviously, I‘m not involved in his care.  This type of hemorrhagic stroke may have had to do with the blood thinners that he‘s been taking since his previous stroke.  We know that, of course, on December 18, he suffered a small stroke.  And based on that, he was started on blood thinners.  A hemorrhagic stroke can be triggered by that medication.

COSBY:  Doctor, thank you very much.  And of course, everybody at home, we‘re going to stay on this story.  Again, massive organ failure for Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.  And if we get any developments in this hour on his fate—of course, we‘re hoping for the best for him, he‘s been leading this country for some time—but of course, as soon as we get any word, we will bring that to you.

And we‘ll continue to stay on what‘s happening here, where I am now live, in front of the Sago mine in West Virginia.

When we come back, the good news that came out of here, the sole survivor, the youngest miner comes out alive.  How is he doing?  We‘re going to talk to one of his family members when we come back.



HATFIELD:  At the darkest hour of this rescue effort, we prayed for 13 miracles.  Despite our grief and despair at the loss of our 12 co-workers, we want to celebrate the one miracle that was delivered.


COSBY:  And amidst all the bad news, 12 miners passing here, right in front of Sago mine in West Virginia, where we are live, there is some good news today, truly a miracle.  One of the miners did survive, the youngest miner, in fact, Randal McCloy, Jr.  And joining us now on the phone is his niece, Christa Green.  Christa, first of al, congratulations.  How is the family doing?  They must be so elated.

CHRISTA GREEN, RANDAL MCCLOY‘S NIECE:  They‘re doing pretty good. 

They‘re just trying to cope with everything that‘s going on right now.

COSBY:  How overwhelmed are they just at what‘s transpired in the last 48 hours?

GREEN:  Excuse me?

COSBY:  How overwhelmed are they at just the course of events that happened?

GREEN:  I‘m sorry.  I don‘t understand.

COSBY:  Yes.  How are they holding up, just the emotional roller-coaster, the ups and downs that they went through, and then finally getting the good news?  How did they handle all of that?

GREEN:  Oh, it was pretty bad.  You know, they just—it‘s hard to explain.  They were just not doing real good at all.  Now that they know he‘s going to be OK, they‘re much better, and they‘re just praying that he can get through this now.

COSBY:  When did the family learn that he was a survivor?

GREEN:  I‘m really not sure.  They had just...

COSBY:  How did you feel...


COSBY:  How did you feel—how did you feel when you heard the news?

GREEN:  I was relieved.  I was very relieved to know.  I was happy and just was very emotional.

COSBY:  Now, I know you‘ve been in touch with his wife.

GREEN:  Yes.

COSBY:  She‘s been by his side, right?  What‘s the latest?  I understand he‘s not talking yet, right?  What did she tell you?

GREEN:  Well, she had told me that, you know, he‘s—right now, he‘s on dialysis for his kidneys, and his lung is rebuilding itself.  And he was able to squeeze her hand, so he‘s understanding just a little bit.

COSBY:  How long do you think he‘s going to be in the hospital?  And are they optimistic about his recovery?

GREEN:  I think he—he‘s a very strong guy, and I just—I think he‘ll just be in the hospital for maybe just a little over a week, and he‘s he‘s just going to make it through.  His recovery‘s just doing great right now.

GREEN:  I think—he‘s a very strong guy, and I just—I think he‘ll just be in the hospital for many just a little over a week.  And he‘s just going to make it through.  His recovery‘s just doing great right now.

COSBY:  That is so great to hear.  And again, congratulations.  Our prayers are with you and the whole family there and, of course, with Randal.  It‘s just great to hear some good news in the midst of all of this. 

And the hospital that treated him was St. Joseph‘s Hospital.  It‘s located not too far from here.  And the doctor, one of the folks who was part of this whole process, is Dr. Susan Long, who joins me. 

First of all, what kind of—was there cheering at the hospital when you heard word that a miner was coming that way? 

DR. SUSAN LONG, ST. JOSEPH‘S HOSPITAL:  Oh, well, absolutely.  And it was an emotional roller coaster, because we all got called in for, as you know, the false information.  We were fully prepared for 12 patients. 

And when we got there and then found that we were only going to get one, that was a huge let down, where all the staff standing ready with IVs and everything ready for all these patients. 

And then they brought Mr. McCloy in.  And, of course, we didn‘t know who he was.  But we just—you know, we had lots of staff there just on everything right away, resuscitating him, getting him stabilized.  And, you know, it was—I mean, I just feel privileged to be a part in this miracle, because it‘s truly a miracle that this guy made it. 

COSBY:  It truly is.  You know, what time did he come in?  And how late was he at the hospital before he was transferred elsewhere? 

LONG:  You know, I think it was about 1:30 in the morning.  I‘m not really sure.  And I just want to say that the McCloy family has graciously given us permission to give you all this information.  And with all they‘ve gone through, it‘s really been a lot for them, I know. 

They were not there at the hospital with us.  But I believe it was about 1:30.  And he was with us close to an hour.  It took about that long to get him stable enough to be transported to the trauma center. 

COSBY:  And they put a ventilator in him?  And he was sedated? 

LONG:  Yes.  Yes.  And he was breathing fairly rapidly and was in respiratory distress and not really communicating.  And the safest thing for a patient in that situation is to put them on the ventilator, control their breathing, and sedate them so that they don‘t fight against the things that you need to do to stabilize them, because, when a person is unconscious, they can be combative.  They don‘t know what‘s going on, and they‘ll fight and pull their IVs out and things like that.

And so, you know, the reason that he can‘t talk to anyone still is because they‘re keeping him in that sedated state until they‘re absolutely sure that they‘ve got everything stabilized.  And then they‘ll slowly let him wake up and try to assess, you know, his mental status, which I‘m sure you‘ve been hearing from WV (ph) throughout the day for that. 

COSBY:  What‘s his prognosis, just based on sort of your early sort of sense of him? 

LONG:  Well, the way I look at it is that a guy who survived that long in that kind of situation has got to be pretty tough.  So, you know, if they can control all of what he sustained, in terms of the dehydration and the shock, then you would expect that he would do pretty well.  But, again, you know, it‘s really—the reason he‘s still in critical condition is because they really can‘t make that determination for a couple of days. 

COSBY:  And I bet you‘re right.  With that kind of spirit, I hope he certainly makes it through in flying colors. 

LONG:  Yes, yes.

COSBY:  You guys did a great job, too.  And you were up all night with us, too.  So we appreciate it, too.

LONG:  Yes, thank you.

COSBY:  Dr. Susan Long, great job.

LONG:  Thank you very much. 

COSBY:  And, of course, you know, a lot of the family members here, what is really incredible, these other family members who lost loved ones today are all talking, you know, first about anger and first about frustration, but they‘re also talking about the good news, that one miner survived. 

But they have so many different emotions after that incredible and just horrible roller coaster of emotions that they were taken through last night.  And joining me now are two people who are helping some of the miners get through. 

First of all, someone who went through before when the Pennsylvania tragedy happened in 2002, when a number of miners actually got out alive, Reverend Charles Olsen joins us now from Pennsylvania.  And with me here is Dr. Richard Kiley.  He‘s a psychologist and grief counseling with Appalachian Community Health Center, not too far from here. 

DR. RICHARD KILEY, GRIEF COUNSELOR:  Not too far from here.

COSBY:  What do you say to these families, Doctor? 

KILEY:  What you basically say to them, it‘s a normal process you‘re going through.  It‘s a universal process, but it‘s unique to every individual. 

COSBY:  How many mixed emotions—I mean, that‘s the hard thing, I think, in this case.  You know, there‘s such tremendous loss.  There‘s a frustration of being given the bad information for hours.

KILEY:  The emotional roller coaster you‘re talking about is very much what you‘re looking at.  You‘re looking at people going through, just hoping that something‘s going to happen, and then when it stops, it just basically is a bottom.  So it‘s a really high elation and a really low low. 

But normally, they‘ll go through a shock.  Then, from that, they go into a brief reaction, which goes shock, anger, denial, bargaining, and depression. 

COSBY:  How long could—this could take a lifetime, right? 

KILEY:  It usually takes at least three years, a year to go through the process the first time, for anniversary dates, another year to process through to realize it, and then another year, basically, where you‘re just it‘s fond memories that are coming back, and it‘s healing time.  But it‘s always difficult.

COSBY:  Let me bring in Reverend Olsen.  Reverend Olsen, you went through this, as you counseled family members in Quecreek, Pennsylvania.  Who could forget that?  And that one, it had a wonderful ending.  And it‘s been, you know, over three years since that happened.  How are the family members doing?  And how about the miners themselves?  You talked to them, too. 

REV. CHARLES OLSEN, COUNSELED FAMILIES DURING QUECREEK INCIDENT:  The miners and the families are doing very well.  But I‘m sure that the incident here in West Virginia has brought a lot back to them.  I know, just by hearing the news myself, I began to relive the incidents back there in Quecreek in 2002. 

And my thoughts were with them, to realize how much this is going to bring back to them.  But, at this point, they‘re handling it well.  But I‘m sure that it‘s also brought back some recalling of the situation they experienced just a little over three years ago. 

COSBY:  What did you say to the miners?  How are the miners coping, as we‘re looking at those incredible pictures when they were pulled from the hole, from the shaft? 

OLSEN:  We‘ve been encouraging to them.  And I‘m sure that—I haven‘t had a chance to talk to any of them yet since this incident in West Virginia, but the one thing that it‘s done for me, and I‘m sure it‘s done for them, is made them appreciate even more so and to be gracious and thankful for the blessing or the miracle that they did receive, that they were be able to be brought out alive.  I‘m sure they‘re just going to appreciate it even more. 

COSBY:  Yes, how do you—I bet.  And how do you explain it in this case, you know, Reverend?  This is so much more complex, as you point out.  First of all, the emotions of being told that their loved ones were alive, cheering for three hours, then the horrible news—you know, tonight we‘re looking at some of the pictures from the vigil—but there are just so many more complex emotions in this one, right, Reverend?

OLSEN:  Yes, there are.  There are so many more.  And, of course, we were able to end on a high note.  And watching all the news reports last evening, you know, I was rejoicing and could understand how the families were rejoicing last night when they thought that their family members were alive. 

But to get the news later on that they were all—none of them had survived other than Randy, that was very devastating to them and very heartbreaking, I‘m sure, something you could hardly even begin to imagine. 

COSBY:  Yes, I cannot imagine.  It‘s just, it‘s so heartbreaking. 

Doctor Kiley, you know, how are these families going to get through? 

What do you think is going to help hold them through? 

KILEY:  First, you take a breath.  Then you take another breath.  And then you just go day by day.  You support each other.  It‘s a very strong community.  It‘s a very strong family network.  The community‘s supportive.  The families are supportive.  And the professionals who are out there to help if they need it. 

COSBY:  Yes, I know you‘ve talked to them.  I know you can‘t talk about the specifics.  But overall, how are the families—how would you gauge their mood, their emotions? 

KILEY:  They‘re still in shock.  And there‘s anger.  And those two things combined are what has to give way to get to the actual depression that‘s going to occur later on, which is a real reaction to the things that have happened to them.  It‘s a very traumatic event. 

COSBY:  Well, keep up the good work, counselor, in talking to them. 

KILEY:  Thank you.

COSBY:  I know they need it desperately.  Dr. Kiley, thank you very much, and, Reverend, too.  I‘m glad that there was a happy ending in your case.  And glad, in this case, at least, one person fortunately survived. 

When we come back, as we just heard from Dr. Kiley, there are a lot of emotions.  And one of them is anger.  A lot of the family members are outraged.  They are talking already about what went wrong, who‘s to blame, and could some lawsuits be ahead?  That‘s coming up, when we continue live here in front of the Sago mine in West Virginia.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  I will tell you all, right here, right now, I plan on suing. 

HARLEY ABLES, FAMILY MEMBER:  I believe this company needs sued.  They straight-out lied to millions of people watching.  And all the families here, as you can tell, are probably 20,000 people waiting for good news.  And we got it.  And it was nothing but lies. 


COSBY:  Talk about a double tragedy, a double whammy, unfortunately, for these families, in this beautiful community, who first heard the news that their loved ones were alive and then were told that they had perished and only one miner had survived. 

Family members tonight in this community, they are outraged.  They are livid, and they are still in a state of shock.  And some of them are already talking about suing. 

Joining me now is Burton Hunter.  He‘s a West Virginia attorney right from the nearby town here in this area. 


COSBY:  Have you been contacted by anybody yet? 

HUNTER:  No, and I wouldn‘t expect to be, unless I‘d be called by, perhaps, a distant family member who‘s just angry.  I would expect the family to be dealing with what they have to deal with right now. 

COSBY:  How long until obviously—I mean, the next thought is burying their loved one, which is just horrific to think about going through that process.  How typically long after would you hear?  They‘re already saying, “We‘re thinking of suing,” a number of them have said.

HUNTER:  I believe that a person that‘s going to be looking after their family and their own legal rights and the laws relative to inheritance and worker‘s compensation would talk to an attorney regardless of whether they think they‘re going to sue someone. 

Also, I think that people need to become educated.  And the only way they can do that is to go to the right sources, because this idea of suing and frivolous lawsuits is so controversial that only about a quarter of their preconceptions are probably accurate.

And I spend probably the first two or three hours trying to help them feel better about even talking to an attorney.  The typical Upshur countian feels guilty about talking to an attorney.  I‘m representing a lady now who completely missed the statute of limitations because she believed it was almost un-American to talk to an attorney. 

COSBY:  And, I‘ll tell you, the people of this community are beautiful.  And such amazing, faith-filled people. 

You know, one of the things—what about—you talked about a number of issues.  You didn‘t talk about emotional distress.  I mean, do they have a case?  I mean, if you ever think about sort of pain and suffering, the fact that they were told, and now we‘re finding out—and we found out today -- 15 or 20 minutes later, the company that owns this mine that we‘re standing in front of found out that that information was erroneous, that their family members weren‘t alive.  They didn‘t know quite what they had on their hands, but they didn‘t go back to the family and say, “Wait, wait, wait.”  They let them cheer.  They let them ring the church bells.  Is that something that can be added in a lawsuit? 

HUNTER:  Well, most of these cases get settled at some stage of the process.  That was so powerful.  And I went through it, because I stayed up until 2:00 in the morning.  I woke my wife up.  And then I was awakened by my wife in tears, telling me that it was not true.  And we‘re not family members of those people, but we were in tears many times. 

COSBY:  Is that something that family members can say, look, add onto a lawsuit or be an aspect of it? 

HUNTER:  Right.  But in West Virginia, many of the rights to sue that a worker has are traded for the guarantee of getting worker‘s compensation benefits.  And we had a case 20 years ago called the Mandalitis (ph) case that set off a flurry of lawsuits.  And that was supposed to be too far in favor of the injured person.  So we have a deliberate intent statute, so that we...

COSBY:  Could it be deliberate that they had that information?  As we know, they knew it was erroneous at that point, weren‘t quite sure how many were alive, and that yet they didn‘t go over to the family members.  We know that for a fact.

HUNTER:  I think what we‘re going to have to find out before any of that becomes relevant:  Are there enough facts to say that that this mine was dangerous enough that the employer knew or should have known—this is the employer—that they were sending their employees into a near-certain dangerous situation? 

COSBY:  Let‘s walk through, in fact—I want to show, if we could, and put them up on the screen -- 46 violations.  There was an inspection that took place.  It ended December 22nd of last year.

Forty-six major violations.  Here are some of them.  They include accumulation of combustible materials, also safeguarding against roof fails, also water sprinkler system, a problem with that, quantity and location of firefighting equipment.  These are some of the things that they got violations from not too long ago. 

HUNTER:  Right.

COSBY:  Are those some of the things that are substantive that they can hold onto and say, “Look how many violation this mine has, and you still sent our men in and they died”? 

HUNTER:  Those are the kinds of things that an experienced attorney will take as the first indicators.  But I learned a couple of things today.  I learned that, in a similar case, 300,000 pages of documents had been generated.  I talked to an attorney friend of mine who took—who had to take the depositions of 30 experts.  The cost of the experts was running him $25,000 a month. 

COSBY:  Are you saying all of that may dissuade family members from taking that step? 

HUNTER:  No, because the family members don‘t have to pay any of that.  They have to find the right balance of an attorney who is aggressive and smart, in my opinion, compassionate.  From my knowledge of Upshur County residents, they‘re going to want someone with their own values. 

I have received...

COSBY:  Real quick.  Real quick, please.

HUNTER:  I just received an e-mail from a firm in Alabama that wants to sign up all of these people.  They are going...

COSBY:  We‘re talking class-action suit? 

HUNTER:  No, this is just a firm down in Alabama that wants to get these 13 people to hire them and take their case.  And they‘re going to be hit by attorneys all over the country. 

Sometimes we‘re our worst enemies, because we are aggressive, smart, but I‘m looking for the big hair attorneys, the big puffy hair.  I expect them to pretty much descend on Buckhannon.  And I think the people need to try to stay focused. 

COSBY:  Absolutely.  And stay with people who care about them and are not into the limelight and care about their needs, right? 

HUNTER:  But then, if somebody has got a lot of money that can fund a litigation and bear up a year or two, or maybe even longer, until the thing resolves. 

COSBY:  Yes, it could be a tough road.  Thank you very much, Mr.


HUNTER:  It could be.

COSBY:  We appreciate it very much. 

And joining me now is Tucker Carlson.  Of course, his big show, “THE SITUATION,” at 11:00 Eastern time.  Tucker, I know I‘m going to be on with you.  I‘m sure we‘re going to be talking about this, as well, right? 

TUCKER CARLSON, MSNBC HOST:  We sure are.  And let me just say, I hope that, when those big-haired attorneys show up in Buckhannon, West Virginia, they‘re met at the county line with shotguns.  They‘re just vultures.  That‘s just disgusting.  Stomach-turning, in fact. 

Rita, last time I talked to you it was a completely different world.  We‘re going to be getting into what I was just talking about a second ago, the blame game.  Who‘s to blame?  We‘re going to be hearing from you, I think, in, I hope, great detail about what exactly did happen last night and who is responsible for it. 

We‘ll also be following two amazingly, I think, profound stories also going on in the news.  It‘s a big week for news.  The first, of course, is the health, precarious at this point, of the prime minister of Israel, Ariel Sharon, who appears to be near death at this hour.  If he does die, what does that mean for the United States?  How does it affect our war on terror?  Israel, of course, a close ally in the war on terror. 

And, second, the scandal enveloping Washington at this hour, surrounding Jack Abramoff, who today admitted to more crimes.  There will be members of Congress indicted.  And we‘re going to give you some sense of who they may be and what that‘s going to mean for Washington.  It‘s a big, big, big story. 

COSBY:  It definitely is.  And, Tucker, I‘ll see you at 11:00. 

CARLSON:  Thanks, Rita.

COSBY:  Thank you very much.  Thank you. 

And stay with us, everybody.  We continue here live from West Virginia.  We‘ll talk about the blame game.  Well, there are a lot of questions about the safety of this mine and other mines.  How dangerous is it for these brave men, who go thousands of feet underground through these tunnels?  What went wrong?



GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES:  Our nation mourns those who lost their lives in the mining accident in West Virginia.  We send our prayers and heartfelt condolences to the loved ones who—whose hearts are broken. 


COSBY:  And that was President Bush just a few hours ago talking about the mine tragedy here in West Virginia, which has truly touched us all.  It‘s also put the spotlight on mine safety, in general, and the track record of Sago mine. 


MARTIN SAVIDGE, NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over):  Despite what happened at the Sago mine, mining deaths are on the decline.  There were 47 in 1995, less than half that a decade later.  But some fear that may be changing.  Critics contend the Federal Department of Mine Safety and Health Administration is now less a policeman and more a partner with the mining companies. 

ELLEN SMITH, MINE SAFETY AND HEALTH NEWS PUBLISHER:  They say that they‘ve formed these partnerships to improve safety, and I don‘t doubt it.  But you kind of say, “OK, so where‘s the watchdog?” 

SAVIDGE:  Another change:  price.  As oil and natural gas prices have soared, the cost of coal has also jumped, up 50 percent from 2004.  And mines are under pressure to deliver. 

UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  Right now, coal producers are firmly in the driver‘s seat. 

SAVIDGE:  New companies are getting into the business, some with limited backgrounds in mining.  The Sago mine is owned by International Coal Group.  ICG bought the Sago mine two months ago and blames its injury rate, three times the industry average, on previous owners. 

Experts say the priority a company places on safety must come from the head office. 

SMITH:  It trickles down, and it‘s got to start at the top. 

SAVIDGE:  Sago says safety is a priority, but family members disagree. 

JOHN BENNETT, SON OF MINER VICTIM:  The mine owners their self know that it‘s unsafe.  And they just keep letting them in, go in there. 

SAVIDGE:  The tragedy may bring tougher regulation.  As one former miner put it, new safety laws are often written in blood. 

Martin Savidge, NBC News, Atlanta. 


COSBY:  Martin, thank you very much. 

And when we come back, angry families and outrage here in West Virginia. 


COSBY:  And you are looking live now at a live picture of Sago mine in West Virginia, standing right in front of it.  It is a place that will never be the same again after this horrible tragedy. 

First, the good news that we need to look at tonight, the bright spot.  Randal McCloy, Jr., the youngest miner, survived miraculously and is at a nearby hospital. 

But, unfortunately, there is plenty of bad news.  Twelve miners perished.  And tonight, there was a beautiful candlelight vigil not too far from here where family members and friends are praying.  But they are also wondering what went wrong, how could this happen?  How did this terrible tragedy occur?  And why were family members misled for three hours, believing that their loved ones had survived, only to find out that they had died?

We‘re going to show you some of the emotional roller coaster, some of the sights and sounds that we went through and saw firsthand last night. 


UNIDENTIFIED MALE:  They told us they were all right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  They were checking them out, making sure they was all right.  They were bringing them back up here so they could have food before they go to the hospital.  And now I just find out that my granddaddy is dead, because people had lied on the TV and everywhere else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:  Now we have no survivors.  Family members is gone, not only mine, but others, 12 other people. 

ABLES:  They straight-out lied to millions of people watching and all of the families here. 


COSBY:  Those poor family members.  And we pledge that we will stay on this story, get those family members as many answers that they desperately, desperately deserve.  Tonight, so many still unanswered.

And the finishes our coverage here live from in front of the Sago mine in West Virginia.  We are finished with LIVE & DIRECT for tonight.  And now, let‘s go to Joe Scarborough and “SCARBOROUGH COUNTRY”—Joe?


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