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Where are they now?

| Friday, July 22, 2005

Three of the nine miners who were trapped for four days in the Quecreek Mine returned to work at the mine. Only one of them is going underground.

Randy Fogle has returned to the job he loves -- mining coal. Mark E. Popernack works aboveground as transportation coordinator at the mine.

John Unger injured his shoulder in a fall and has been off work to recover from surgery. He said he should finish his therapy this week and is looking forward to returning to his job.

He'll be working on the surface, though. He won't go underground.

If he could make money on his 86-acre farm, he might not go back at all, he says with a laugh.

Blaine Mayhugh, the youngest of the nine, went to work for a Somerset windmill company.

The others -- Thomas D. Foy, Robert Pugh, John Phillippi, Dennis Hall and Ronald Hileman -- did not return to their jobs at Quecreek. They could not be reached for comment.

Perhaps the biggest adjustment for these men who were accustomed to the solitude that anonymity afforded them was the sudden celebrity.

They were the focus of a TV movie and have been in demand for everything from talk shows to Lions Club meetings.

"Going from nobody to notoriety," Unger calls it.

"It's really different now. Somebody always knows you," he said. "I'd never signed an autograph before. Now, I've lost count."

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