Nov. 20 marks the anniversary of the 1968 Farmington Mine Disaster, which killed 78 men. It was the worst U.S. mine disaster in 50 years. On Sunday, a crowd of about 150 people gathered at the memorial of the Farmington Mine Disaster.
Many, like Aida Mainella Everhart, were there to remember their family members who died 47 years ago. “It was the explosion heard round the world, and we’ll never forget it. And we’ll never forget my dad, David Mainella."
Sharon Clelland was 5 years old when the explosion killed her father, David Cartwright. She points out that one year after the Farmington disaster, Congress passed the Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1968.
“If it wasn’t for this disaster, the mine and safety act probably would not even exist," Clelland said.
"I have a son that’s in the coal mines today, I have a niece that’s in the coal mines. Technology of today is 100 percent better than it was in 1968, but you never stop worrying. Never."
Clelland and her family have been attending the annual memorial service in Farmington for years. For the past eight years, Sharon has been singing the national anthem and "Amazing Grace". Her raw, powerful voice echoes against the mountain ridge when she sings. It was her dad, David Cartwright, who taught her how to sing, just before he died.
Last November, a new civil lawsuit was filed on behalf of the families of the 78 victims of the Farmington Mine Disaster against Consolidation Coal Company.