TALLMANSVILLE, W. Va. - It's obvious here that family was of the utmost importance to the miners who lost their lives. Yesterday I interviewed the family of Terry Helms, who was the fire boss at the Sago mine. Among the poignant details: His daughter, Amber, would talk to her Dad for hours, just talk. He would also drive hours for a 20-minute visit with her while she was away at college. And he wouldn't allow his 25-year-old son, Nick, to become a miner, discouraging him from spending his days underground, away from home, instead encouraging him to follow his dreams and become a golf pro.
Even more touching are the notes the miners left behind. Martin Toler, Jr. telling his family: "It wasn't bad. I just went to sleep. I love you." It seems the miners even considered themselves family. Terry Helms' body reportedly had a note left on it, thought to be written by one of his fellow miners, saying he also died peacefully.
We may never know for sure, but it seems these men, in their last moments when they knew they were going to die, didn't think of themselves. They thought about the legacy they'd leave behind and made an effort to tell their families they'd be OK.