Sago Mine Disaster

Gale Booth of Billington, W.Va., a retired miner who worked at the Sago mine stands at the mine's entrance to pay his respects to the 12 fallen miners on January 5, 2006.  "My heart is hurting right now," Booth said as he fought back tears.
 A photo of David Lewis, 28, of Newburg, W.Va., one of the miners who died in the Sago Mine disaster, hangs on a cross at a memorial in front of the Barbour County Courthouse in Philippi, W.Va.
 A flag flies at half-staff at the Sawmill Run Preparation Plant of the Hawthorne Coal Company not far from the entrance to the Sago Mine.
 Upshur County Sheriff Department's Lt. Mark Davis stands at the entrance to the road leading to the mine where 13 miners have been trapped for nearly 20 hours.  "I know a couple of guys in there...I'm not giving up hope," he said standing in the road directing traffic on January 3, 2006. 
 A copy of a note written by Martin Toler, Jr., 51, a section foreman who had spent 32 years working in coal mines and one of the 12 who perished in the Sago Mine.
 Wanda Groves is consoled by family members after hearing that her son, Jerry Groves, is alive. Mining officials released incorrect information to the miners' families that all but one miner had survived, only later to be told that 12 of the missing 13 miners were actually dead.
 The Sago Baptist Church sits quiet a week after the Sago Mine disaster in Sago, Upshur County, West Virginia. The church played a central role in the events that unfolded. 
West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin talks with members of the media near the site of the Sago Mine on January 3, 2006.
 Carl Utterback, right, and Chester Alexander, left, both of Moatsville leave David Lewis' funeral at the Stemple & Forman Funeral Home in Philippi, W.Va., on January 8, 2006.
The hearse carrying miner David Lewis leads a caravan of mourners to the Shiloh cemetery.
 Friends and family members carry the casket of Fred Ware Jr. into the Sago Baptist Church.
The gravedigger at the Shiloh Cemetery waits for David Lewis' funeral to end on January 8, 2006.

10 years ago this week I was in Sago, W.Va., covering one of the most difficult and emotional assignments of my career--the Sago Mine disaster. These are a few of the images I made in the days I spent there. 

Moments from 2015

Ryan Smith, right, of Corning, NY sits on his horse next to Rob Wright, left, of Alexander, NY at the Fort Armstrong Championship Rodeo at the Crooked Creek Horse Park in Ford City on Friday, July 10, 2015.
 A suspect is taken into custody at a coyote stash house in Edinburg, Texas where 12 immigrants  were being held. Typically the migrants are held in the home until they can pay the coyote for assisting them in entering the U.S.  
 A Hidalgo County Deputy Constable stands near his cruiser with two female illegal immigrants during a raid on a suspected stash house just outside of Edinburg, Texas.
Members of the Josh Gibson All-Stars stand on the field prior to their game against the Anderson Monarchs on July 2, 2015 at Manchester Field in Manchester.  The game was part of the Monarchs Barnstorming Tour, a 20-city tour to pay tribute to Jackie Robinson, the Negro League, and the Civil Rights Movement.  The teams wore Negro League uniforms with the Josh Gibson All-Stars wearing the Homestead Grays uniform and the Monarchs in their Philadelphia Star uniforms.
 W.M. Hanley behind the counter at the Bird Cage Theatre in Tombstone, Ariz.
 Bob Jones of Melbourne, FL stands in the audience at an campaign event for Rick Santorum, who announced his candidacy for U.S. President, at Penn United Technologies in Cabot, PA on May 27, 2015.
 Dylan Terrazes of Santa Barbara, Calif., touches his grandmother's fingers as she meets him for the first time at Freedom Park in Border Field State Park in Imperial Beach, Calif. Sitting at the end of the 1,933 miles of U.S. border with Mexico, the Border Patrol allows people to congregate on both side of the fence on weekends. The small holes in the fence leave little room for physical contact through the fence except for fingertips. Those who visit at the park say they give "pinkie kisses" though the fence.
 A man sits on a stoop along a busy Pittsburgh street on Sept. 2, 2015.
 Bob Johansen, 75, of St. Petersburg, FL., a pilot with the Geico Skytypers stands on the wing of a plane in a hanger at the Arnold Palmer Region Airport as rains pass through Latrobe on June 18, 2015 delaying the team's practice run for the Westmoreland County Airshow.
 Jayne May-Stim, 19, of Greenfield reacts to a speaker at a rally for Indigenous Peoples Day at the statue of Christopher Columbus in Schenley Park on Oct. 12, 2015. The rally called attention to "Indigenous Peoples Day," a day to honor the culture and history of Indigenous people.
 Raymond Hostetler of Piffard, NY rides out of the gate at the Fort Armstrong Championship Rodeo at the Crooked Creek Horse Park in Ford City on July 10, 2015.
 A man and woman sit in Cafe du Monde in New Orleans, LA on August 26, 2015. 
 A fan smokes a cigar on top of the bleachers at the Fort Armstrong Championship Rodeo at the Crooked Creek Horse Park in Ford City on July 10, 2015.
A cyclist rides through an alley in the Strip District as the sun begins to set on Sept. 24, 2015.

Judge Hugh Fitzpatrick McGough

Kris Rust robes his husband, Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas Judge Hugh Fitzpatrick McGough, at his swearing in ceremony at the City County Building, Downtown on Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2015.


The moon rises above St. Benedict the Moor Church in the Hill District on Thursday evening, Dec. 24, 2015

Christmas Eve Shooting

People are overcome with emotion at the scene of a shooting on the 4900 block of Broad Street in Garfield on Thursday afternoon, Dec. 24, 2015.

St. Mary of the Mount

St. Mary of the Mount Church sits atop Mt. Washington as the sun illuminates the U.S. Flag at Point State Park, Downtown on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2015.

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church

Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church is lit up as the sun sets in Franklin Park on Saturday evening,  Dec. 19, 2015.

The Force Awakens in Pittsburgh

TOP: David Milliern, 45, of Elizabeth, holds his lightsaber as he plays with other fans at the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" movie opening night at AMC Loews Waterfront 22 theaters in Homestead on Thursday night, Dec. 17, 2015. CENTER: Eric Hess, 46, of West Mifflin, dressed as Han Solo gets his photo taken near a sign for the movie. BOTTOM: Kayza Donahue, 28, of Brookline gets some soda before the movie.

Hunters Sharing the Harvest

Doug Peffer's Deer Cutting and Smokehouse in Ellwood City on Saturday, Dec. 5, 2015.  The Beaver County meat processor takes part in the Hunters Sharing the Harvest program.  The statewide program, now in its 24th deer-hunting season, is on track to surpass 1 million pounds of deer meat donated by hunters and served by emergency food providers since its inception. The vast majority of last year's haul - nearly 40 percent, or 1,044 deer weighing 38,923 pounds - came from Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Washington and Westmoreland Counties.

Downtown Walk

A person walks across Penn Avenue, Downtown on a rainy Wednesday, Dec. 2, 2015.

Marriage Equality

U.S. Senator Robert Casey, right, meets with Nino Esposito, left, and Roland Bosee Jr., second from left, with members of the media at his office, Downtown on Friday, Nov. 13, 2015.  Esposito and Bosee, a couple who have been together for 45 years, have been prevented from obtaining a marriage license.  The two entered into an adoption to secure basic rights, but now with marriage equality across the country, the couple is hoping for the courts to annul their adoption so they can get married. Sen. Casey sent a letter to Attorney General Lynch asking the Department of Justice to issue legal guidance that would encourage state courts to allow these adoptions to be annulled so they can obtain a marriage license. In Pennsylvania, such a move could be considered incest and is punishable by ten years in prison.

Jeff at Sunset

Jeff at sunset

Million Student March

A protester is taken into custody along Fifth Avenue in Oakland during the Million Student March, a nationwide protest that took to the streets Thursday evening to demand tuition-free public universities, the cancelation of all student debt, and a $15 minimum wage for all campus workers.
A protester argues with a police officer along Fifth Avenue in Oakland during the Million Student March.

Strip District

Traffic moves along Penn Avenue through the Strip District as the sun sets on Thursday, Nov. 5, 2015.

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About Me

My Photo
Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Justin Merriman, an award-winning photojournalist with the Tribune-Review, has spent more than a decade traveling the world to cover politics, wars, natural disasters and civil unrest. His work has appeared in leading national and international publications and he has received numerous top journalism awards. After covering the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks – including the crash of United Flight 93 in Shanksville – Merriman committed to chronicling the U.S. military and its War on Terror. He has followed this story across the US and into the war zones of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. He also has covered life in Fidel Castro’s Cuba in 2002, India’s efforts to eradicate polio, the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Cuba in 2012, the 2013 conclave and election of Pope Francis in Rome, the second anniversary of Egypt's revolution and subsequent unrest, and most recently, Russia's invasion of Crimea and the international crisis that unfolded in Ukraine. Merriman lives in Oakmont with his fiancĂ©, Stephanie Strasburg.

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