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Miracle Baby Of Buffalo Creek Honored In Hometown

Reported: Jun. 1, 2014 8:42 PM EDT
Updated: Jun. 2, 2014 11:16 AM EDT
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BUFFALO CREEK, W.Va. (Chris Williams) -- The Buffalo Creek disaster is one of the worst disasters in West Virginia's history.

More than 100 people were killed, and1,000 more were injured. People living in the Buffalo Creek area got together Sunday, not to talk about the destruction, but to celebrate something good that came of the disaster.

Kerry Albright was just 9 months old in February 1972, when Buffalo Mining Company’ dam No. 3 collapsed. As a result, 132 million gallons of coal waste shot down Buffalo Creek Road.

Kerry’s brother, Steven, saw what was coming. He grabbed his mother, Sylvia, and Kerry, and started running, but the family ended up trapped in the sludge.

"They knew they weren't going to make it, so they decided to count to three, and just throw me as far as they could," Kerry Albright said. "Then the water got them, and, of course, they drowned."

That ended up saving Kerry's life. A pastor found him about 30 minutes later, buried in the sludge.

Kerry's father, Robert, was reunited with his son at his uncle's house. A few days after the spill, doctors told Robert that Kerry was going to make it. That’s when he became known as the "Miracle Baby." Kerry said what his mother and brother did that morning is what anyone in that situation would have done.

"My mother, to me, she kind of just represents the women of Buffalo Creek," Albright said.

Kerry now lives in New York, and is an entertainer. He was back home Sunday because part of Buffalo Creek Road was renamed Kerry Albright Road.

Kerry's friends said it was a great way to shed light on a dark situation.

"The life that he has led, and led productively. I think it's a wonderful gesture to, not death, but to life," Krista Brown Trogdon, Albright's lifelong friend said.

"I think things like this open up the history to a new generation of people, so they can learn about their past," Albright's friend Andrea Santos said.

His friends spoke at the ceremony and state Sen. Art Kirkendoll, D-Logan, read the legislation that officially renamed the part of Buffalo Creek Road, running through Lorado as Kerry Albright Road.

"Anyone on Buffalo Creek is deserving of this. Anyone who went through that disaster, or is associated with that disaster is just as worthy, if not more worthy,” Albright said of the honor.

For more on the Buffalo Creek disaster and an interview with Albright recounting the disaster, visit the two-part Buffalo Creek installment of our “Remember When” series.



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