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Rescued miner: 'It was a team effort'

Harry B. Mayhugh, left, was the second of the nine miners rescued early Sunday. His wife, Leslie, was by his side as he was released from Somerset Hospital.
Harry B. Mayhugh, left, was the second of the nine miners rescued early Sunday. His wife, Leslie, was by his side as he was released from Somerset Hospital.  

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(CNN) -- Nine miners emerged from a Pennsylvania coal mine early Sunday, soaking wet and hungry after enduring more than three days trapped in a cramped, cold space 240 feet underground.

Doctors said the miners were in remarkable condition, considering their ordeal.

One of the rescued miners, Harry B. Mayhugh, answered reporters' questions his release Sunday at Somerset Hospital. With him was his wife, Leslie.

Q: When did you become aware of efforts to rescue you?

MAYHUGH: We heard the big drill on and off, but we thought maybe they couldn't find us or maybe they broke down or -- we didn't know what to think. You had your high points and low points every day. I mean, you're like, OK, it sounds good. And then at one time the drill -- I think we timed it. It was like 16 hours; we never heard it run again, so we thought, well, maybe they gave up on this or something major happened. You know, we had no idea what to think.

Q: What got you through?

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MAYHUGH: A miracle. God. Between God and my wife and kids -- that's the only thing that got me through.

Q: Did you say any sort of prayers down there?

MAYHUGH: Yeah. Yes.

Q: You all started tapping on the drill when it came down. Why is that?

MAYHUGH: When they first gave us the air shaft, 6-inch air shaft, we hit on that right away, and we got a response. But it didn't go maybe an hour later and the water came up too high, and we had to get back out of there. So then we proceeded on beating on the roof back where we was, hoping they'd locate us over there. ...

Q: The compartment that you were in, could you sit down in there?

MAYHUGH: Well ... we had maybe (a) 50-feet-by-20-feet compartment that was relatively dry -- I'm not going to say dry, but the bottom was moist and ...

Q: How were you guys holding on?

MAYHUGH: Snuggling each other. Laying up against each other or sitting back to back to each other, anything to produce body heat, you know.

Q: What did you think about?

MAYHUGH: Anything imaginable. About the family, last thing you said to your family, you know, before you left work -- for work that day. You know, and the only day of my life I never kissed my wife before I went to work, and that had to be the day there.

Q: How -- who was it that really kept you together?

MAYHUGH: Everybody. Everybody had strong moments. But any certain time maybe one guy got down and then the rest pulled together, and then that guy would get back up and maybe someone else would feel a little weaker, but it was a team effort. That's the only way it could have been.

Q: Did you have a sense about how long you were down there?

MAYHUGH: Yeah, I kept looking at my watch, and we knew exactly it was Saturday or Thursday night or Friday. We kept track.

Q: Were there other ways that you passed the time?

MAYHUGH: No. There was no -- no lights because we was down to maybe two lights, and we had to spare them, and we just used two lights for two guys maybe going out to see if we could see the drill coming through, and then everybody would stay back, and then, you know, vice versa, two separate guys would go at certain times, and then we'd beat on the roof, you know, just take turns.

Q: How was it when the drill came through?

MAYHUGH: It was hard to hear. It was so noisy down there. We could actually hear the drill, but we couldn't tell it came through. Different times we thought it was through, and it wasn't through. Then the last time when I guess it did go through, some -- I think it was [my] father-in-law ... he came up and said, "We've got a hole; everybody come down here." And we just started yelling up, "Help, help, please get us out."

Q: How does it feel today to be here with your wife? About this miracle?

MAYHUGH: Feels great. But emotionally I'm still ... you know; it's going to take time to heal.

QUESTION: Climbing into the capsule, how did you get in? How was the ride up?

MAYHUGH: The ride, it was all right. Just a lot of water pouring on you, and you just couldn't wait to get up because all the water running down your face and down your back and you were like, "Please, just get me up out of here."

Q: Who is your father-in-law?

MAYHUGH: Randy Fogle [rescued miner] was -- is my boss, and my father-in-law is Tom Foy [rescued miner]. He is the mechanic on our crew.

Q: Describe the moment when you got out of the capsule.

MAYHUGH: I can't even -- I mean, there was just lights and people. I had no idea there was this many people involved or ...

Q: Did you realize that there was going to be some sort of, you know, media presence?

MAYHUGH: I thought locally up to Pittsburgh, but I didn't think ...

Q: Can we ask your wife what the last four days were like for you?

LESLIE MAYHUGH: Lots of ups and downs, but I just kept praying, and I had good beliefs, and I knew that he was going to get through. I knew I couldn't lose my dad and my husband. I just knew it, so it wasn't your day [points to husband].




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