It was a moment in history that sent shock waves through communities and families across the state. Eight years ago, 29 miners were killed in the Upper Big Branch mine disaster in Raleigh County. The disaster led to the trial of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship. He was convicted in 20-15 of misdemeanor conspiracy to willfully violate mine safety standards, and sentenced to prison.
It is known as one of the worst mine explosions in the United States since 1970.
“When this event occurred, i’ll never forget that day and the days that followed,” Delegate for the 30th Distrcit of Beckley, Mick Bates, said.
A tragedy that brought the Raleigh County community closer than ever, and continues to bind families together 8 years later.
“People came together in a way I never experienced,” Bates said.
Jeanie Sanger and Judy Walls’ brother Benny was one of the 29 miners killed at UBB, they tell 59 News they will always keep his memory in their hearts.
“I’m thankful that they remember them all, it’s hard but i’m thankful that they do,” Sanger said.
Every year they hold a memorial in front of the Raleigh County Courthouse to remember the ones they lost and comfort those they left behind.
“It shows you what a special place and what special people we are here in Southern West Virginia and we don’t forget,” Bates said.
Family, friends, and members of the community said they will continue to come out and honor those 29 miners to keep their memory alive.