Altoona News Account of the Sheppton Mine Disaster

Altoonans’ Son Acclaimed Hero At Cave-in Site

A former Altoonan, Phil Margush, 19, son of the Rev. and Mrs. Stephen G. Margush of 308 Wordsworth Ave., was hailed as a hero today for the key role he played in establishing contact with the three miners entombed 331 feet below the surface in the mine cave-in near Hazleton last Tuesday.

Today Margush was a patient in Locust Valley Hospital, Shenandoah, suffering from exhaustion. Hospital officials said his condition was good but that he would not be released for 24 hours as he needed rest and they feared he would return to the scene of the cave-in too soon.

Phil was employed part time by Radio Station WRTA in Altoona as an engineer and an- nouncer until a month ago when he was named chief engineer and part-time newsman for WMBT, Shenandoah, a Trans-Audio station owned and operated by WRTA.

The young engineer was on a routine news assignment last Sunday, interviewing rescue workers at the mine, when someone said it was regrettable that they had been unable to estabIish contact with any possible survivors through the 6-inch hole drilled down to the small chamber where a slim hope existed that the menmight be alive.

Margush volunteered the use of equipment from his mobile unit and, attaching a microphone to a broadcast cable, lowered it through the 6-inch opening and plugged it into a tape. recorder above ground. The scheme worked and, to the amazement of everyone, the voices of the entombed men came through.

Two of the miners, David Fellin, 58, and Henry Throne, 28, reported that they were alive and well and that another companion, Louis Bova, 42, was, about 15 feet away with an injured hip in a spot inaccessible to them because of a pile of rubble.

Margush remained on duty at the scene for 36 hours, maintain- ing contact with the miners who are directing their own rescue. At 10 a.m. today, after his collapse, two men from Station WMBT and two additional engineers from another station were called .in to keep the equipment operating in these critical hours.

Mine officials estimated that it would take at least 72 hours more to bring the men to the surface. Two CBS units were at the scene this morning also and it was reported that Walter Cronkite was expected momentarily.

An effort was made yesterday to install a telephone line through the 6-inch shaft but the effort was unsuccessful and voice contact still is maintained only through the WMBT cable installed by Margush.

Phil Margush, 19, son of the Rev. and Mrs. Stephen G. Margush of Altoona, who achieved voice contact with two of the three miners missing and feared dead in a subterranean cavern near Hazleton last Sunday nlght, collapsed Tuesday morning after maintaining a constant vigil at the scene for over 36 hours.

Margush had dropped a microphone through a 6-inch shaft drilled down to the spot where it was felt the miners might be, and the voices of the missing men came through. It was the first contact made with them since the minecave-in on Aug. 13. After a day in Locust ValIey Hospital, Shenandoah, Margush was back at the site. Arrow on picture points to Louis H. Murray, executive vice president of Trans-Audio Corporation; which owns and operates Radio Station WMBT, Shenandoah, which made the contact, and WRTA, Altoona.