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Bill Hastie, Last Survivor of Knox Mine Disaster, Dies at 101



November 11, 2020 - Bill Hastie, a World War II veteran and the last remaining survivor of Pennsylvania's 1959 Knox Mine Disaster in which he helped save the lives of 69 miners, passed away Saturday at the Veterans Affair Medical Center in Plains Township. He was 101 years old.

Hastie’s heroic efforts as part of the rescue team during the mine disaster have been chronicled time and time again, in books as well as a feature-length documentary film directed by West Pittston native David Brocca. The disaster occurred on Jan. 22, 1959 at the River Slope Mine, a mine owned by the Knox Coal Company in Jenkins Township.


Bill Hastie, the last survivor of the 1959 Knox Mine Disaster, is seen attending the premiere of a documentary about the incident in 2019.

Twelve lives were lost that day when the mine was flooded with water from the Susquehanna River, but Hastie is credited with helping save the lives of 69 additional miners.

A native of West Pittston, Hastie had spent the last three years living at the VA Medical Center.

Back in May, as Hastie celebrated his 101st birthday, the hospital organized a parade in his honor. Emergency vehicles from Wilkes-Barre, Wilkes-Barre Township and Plains Township circled the hospital to honor Hastie, while Wilkes-Barre mayor George Brown issued a proclamation declaring May 28, 2020 to be “Bill Hastie Day.”

In addition to being remembered and renowned for his heroic efforts, Hastie was also a sought-after guest speaker at many local organizations for his vast array of knowledge regarding the history of the mining industry in the region, as well as the history of the region in general.