Coal mining fatality reported in Muhlenberg County

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (KT) - An accident in Muhlenberg County on Wednesday has resulted in Kentucky’s third coal mining fatality of the year.

State and federal mining officials, including Kentucky Energy and Environment Secretary Charles Snavely and Natural resources Commissioner John Small went to the scene of the accident, which occurred around 5:30 pm CDT at Paradise Mine in Central City.

According to the Energy and Environment Cabinet, Richard L. Knapp, 62, a welder/iron worker with Fricke Management & Contracting, Murphysboro, IL, was constructing a form which would be used to fill a mine shaft with concrete, as part of an effort to seal and close the mine. A methane gas explosion in the shaft caused Knapp to fall.

EEC mine personnel from across the state, as well as representatives from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration and owner Kenamerican Resources, Inc. are on site to assist with the investigation. All operations at the mine were shut down Wednesday evening and remain closed.

“On behalf of the Cabinet, I want to extend my heartfelt prayers to the Knapp family,” Snavely said.

Other coal mining fatalities this year in Kentucky:

--January 14 at the Toms Fork Mine in Bell County, when Jeffery N. Slone, a 56-year-old survey crew member with 30 years of mining experience, was fatally injured when he was struck by a shuttle car traveling to the coal feeder. At the time of the accident, Slone was taking measurements of the mining height as part of his surveying duties. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the Bell County Coroner.

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Safety Administration determined the accident occurred because the mine operator did not have effective policies, procedures, and controls to protect miners who are on foot from being contacted by moving mobile face equipment.

--May 22 at Rex Coal Company’s CVB Mine No. 1 in Harlan County, when Felix North, a 48-year-old continuous mining machine operator with 12 years of experience was severely injured when a section of coal/rock rib measuring, 48 to 54” long, 24” wide, and 28” thick, fell and pinned him to the mine floor. At the time of the accident, the victim was in the process of taking the second cut of a crosscut and was moving the mining machine cable that was adjacent to the coal/rock rib. He died eight days later.

That investigation is still underway by MSHA.

Kentucky’s three coal mining fatalities this year compares to one in all of 2018, according to MSHA records.

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