Last man out after 1958 Springhill mine disaster dead at 95 – by Anjuli Patil (CBC News Nova Scotia – September 9, 2018)

Herbert Pepperdine spent more than 8 days underground after deadly 1958 bump

The last man to emerge from the ground after the 1958 Springhill mining disaster has died at age 95. An obituary posted Sunday for Herbert Pepperdine stated the former coal miner died Friday in hospital in Springhill, N.S.

“He was just a treasure to the community. He started working in the mines when he was 14 years old and even after ’58, after he was trapped eight-and-a-half days, he works 10 more years in the last working mine that was in Springhill,” said Tony Somers, a tour guide at the Springhill Miners Museum.

The disaster, known as the bump (like an underground earthquake), occurred Oct. 23, 1958. There were 175 men in the mine at the time; 75 of them were killed. While Pepperdine would occasionally talk about the 1958 disaster, Somers said it wasn’t something he enjoyed.

In a 2008 interview with CBC News, Pepperdine recalled what happened leading up to the bump. “There was a bang in me ears it threw me back quite a ways, my face blew up like a balloon,” Pepperdine told CBC News “And you couldn’t see nothing for stone dust, your light shone through just like a fog.”

He sat in the dark for more than eight days without food or water, with the stench of corpses hanging in the air. “I didn’t think I would last it, I was pretty well gone,” Pepperdine said. “I thought we all had the biscuit but I was laying there and I think the eighth day or so I seen this bright light in my eyes one of the rescue men.”

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