Some of the 12 coal miners who died in the Sago Mine disaster left farewell messages to their families. They knew they were going to die.
“Tell all I’ll see them on the other side,” read the note found with the body of 51-year-old mine foreman Martin Toler Jr. “It wasn’t bad. I just went to sleep. I love you Jr.”
Tom Toler, Martin’s older brother who worked 30 years in the mine with him, said Thursday that the note was “written very lightly and very loosely” in block letters on the back of an insurance application form his brother had in his pocket.
“I took it to mean that it was written in the final stages,” the brother said. “I’d call it more or less scribbling.
No note was found on the body of 59-year-old machine operator Fred Ware Jr., but daughter Peggy Cohen said she and other relatives who went to identify bodies at a temporary morgue were told by the medical examiner that some of the men wrote letters with a similar message: “Your dad didn’t suffer.”
“The notes said they weren’t suffering, they were just going to sleep,” said Cohen, who planned to retrieve her father’s belongings to see if he had put such a note in his lunch box.
Cohen said her father had the peaceful look of someone who died of carbon monoxide, and the only mark on his body was a bruise on his chest.
“It comforts me to know he didn’t suffer and he wasn’t bruised or crushed,” she said. “I didn’t need a note. I think I needed to visualize and see him.”
The first of the funerals are set to begin on Saturday.