Dust, dirt and debris kicked up, and Stewart felt a sense of panic.
"I told myself, 'You cannot panic. You know better,'" he said.
Stewart gathered himself, and told the men around him: "Take your time, boys, take your time on the way out. We don't need to fall.'
"It wasn't a time to fall," he said. "We needed to get out of there quickly and efficiently."
The powerful wind didn't let up as the men neared the exit. It lasted at least two minutes, maybe longer, he said.
Stewart, who lives just off W.Va. 3 near Seth, knew just about all the miners who died in Monday's blast -- "a lot of them personally very well."
Wednesday was anything but typical for him. Normally on a warm, beautiful spring afternoon he'd be all over the place and you couldn't get him to stop moving. Since Monday's explosion he hasn't done much, except for some media interviews.
Before long, he hopes to drive his four-wheeler to the top of the mountain behind his home, where he'll throw back a cold beer or two and just sit, away from everyone and everything.
Reach Davin White at davinwh...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1254.