A photo of John Sabo.

 John Sabo.


Jonathan Sabo, a mine rescue and fire brigade instructor with West Virginia University’s Mining Extension Service, has been inducted into the National Coal Mine Rescue Hall of Fame. Established by the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the Hall of Fame honors individuals who stand out as exceptional in the field of mine rescue.


A native of Farmington, Sabo started his mining career in 1977 when he was hired at the Eastern Associated, Federal No. 2 Mine as a general inside laborer. He earned his mine foreman-fireboss certification in 1984 and joined the mine rescue team in 1986. He held numerous positions on the rescue team including map man, gas man and later captain, a position he held for 15 years. He also served as a mine health and safety committeeman for six years.

The winner of numerous state and national titles in a variety of mine rescue events, Sabo gained numerous qualifications including first aid, emergency medical technician and firefighting. Over the years he assisted in rescue efforts during the Beckley mine fire, the Aracoma /Alma Mine fire and the Upper Big Branch explosion.

“John exemplified the title of captain when he was involved with mine rescue,” said Mark Gouzd, extension agent and trainer for the WVU Student Mine Rescue Team. “He was always first in, last out. He worked with and developed other team members to assure they were trained in responding to any mine emergency if called upon. When a real event occurred, John was always ready and willing to assist in any way he could. He would assure everyone on his team was accounted for and safe before he stood down.”

“I am excited that John is able to share his knowledge and experience not only with our customers from across the nation but also with future mine managers and engineers who are currently on the WVU student mine rescue team,” said Josh Brady, associate director of mining extension and WVU Student Mine Rescue Team advisor.

Sabo officially retired from the industry in 2014.