At around noon on January 2, 2006, the first reports hit the airwaves: part of the Sago mine in Tallmansville, West Virginia, had exploded and collapsed. The 13 miners inside were trapped. Over the next couple of days, the situation was marked by round-the-clock news coverage outside the tiny Sago Baptist Church.
Around midnight, mining officials told the families that their loved ones had been saved. News outlets across the globe reported the miracle that deserved its banner headlines: 12 of the 13 survived, had been rescued and were on their way to Sago Baptist Church!
As family members celebrated, mining officials were quickly learning the truth. At around 2:30 a.m. on January 4—three hours after the initial reports of a dozen survivors—Anderson spoke with bystander Lynette Roby, who had overheard mining officials talking to the families. In a horrible reversal, officials reported that 12 miners were dead, and the only survivor was in a coma.
Anderson recalls that Roby walked "out of the dark and said, 'They're all dead.' It was like a punch in the stomach."