Jessica Lilly Published

UBB Victim's Father Reacts to Blankenship Indictment


Gary Quarles lost his son in the Upper Big Branch disaster. Since then, he’s looked for peace, understanding and justice.

Quarles wanted to see Don Blankenship held accountable for the conditions at the mine and the death of his son.

Blankenship’s Reputation

Quarles worked for Massey Energy as buggy operator for nine years and he knows first hand what kind of operation Blankenship was running.

“Don Blankenship’s name was known throughout Massey,” he said.

Quarles says his son, Gary Wayne, knew Blankenship too. Gary said Blankenship made it known that he was the man in charge.

“He made himself known,” Quarles said. “Since he’s the man in charge he’s the man to blame.”

Blankenship became known to most West Virginians when he threw more than $3 million into a West Virginia Supreme Court election back in 2004.

Will this indictment send a message?

Quarles still lives in Raleigh County, not far from the Upper Big Branch mine. He’s often expressed his concerns about current coal miners. He hopes the indictment sends a message to the industry.

“It’s going to make any other top management people do what’s right,” Quarles said, “When they think about falsifying records and lying about everything coming and going that, hey I might be the next one that has to go to jail.”

“Let’s get it done,” Quarles replied after asked if the indictments give him peace. “Just hearing about this it helps. Let’s get the rest of it done and see what all happens.”


Credit Mine Safety and Health Administration
Mine Safety and Health Administration