CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WBOY) — On January 2, 2006, rumors of a “miracle” quickly turned to tragedy when 12 coal miners were confirmed dead 40 hours after an explosion in Sago, Upshur County.

One person who was trapped, Randal McCloy Jr., barely survived as he watched his 12 colleagues succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning.

During the two-day period between the explosion and the rescue, media across the country falsely reported that 12 miners were alive, causing confusion and chaos. Former 12 News reporter Scott Grayson relayed the following information live on Channel 12 after the false rumors of the “miracle.”

On the 17th anniversary of the accident, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin released the following statement:

Seventeen years ago, we lost twelve brave coal miners who went to work at the Sago mine and never returned home to their beloved families. West Virginia came together after the tragedy to grieve the loss of our fellow West Virginians and support the families and loved ones of those lost. The Sago mine disaster resulted in legislation that improved safety standards for our miners who sacrifice every day to power our great nation. The anniversary of this tragedy reminds us that our miners are willing to risk their lives for us, and we owe it to them to prioritize their health and safety. Gayle and I will keep the miners’ families and loved ones in our thoughts and prayers as we remember this tragic loss of those twelve brave West Virginians.

Sen. Joe Manchin

Listed below are the victims of the explosion:

  • Thomas P. Anderson
  • Alva M. Bennett
  • James Bennett
  • Jerry L. Groves
  • George J. Hamner
  • Terry Helms
  • Jesse L. Jones
  • David W. Lewis
  • Martin Toler Jr.
  • Fred G. Ware
  • Jackie L. Weaver
  • Marshall Winans

There are several memorials across West Virginia to remember the victims, including one near Sago Road in Buckhannon and one in Philippi.