Sago Mine Disaster / by Justin Merriman

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.