Killed miner was 17-year Arch veteran

AN INVESTIGATION by Arch officials as well as state and federal regulators has continued into an underground wall collapse in eastern Kentucky that killed one Arch Coal worker and injured two others.
Killed miner was 17-year Arch veteran Killed miner was 17-year Arch veteran Killed miner was 17-year Arch veteran Killed miner was 17-year Arch veteran Killed miner was 17-year Arch veteran


Donna Schmidt

An Arch spokeswoman told ILN that the victim, Lenny Gilliam, had been employed by its lone Mountain Processing since March 1996.

He was one of three workers involved in a Tuesday afternoon incident at the Huff Creek No.1 operation in Harlan County.

Preliminary findings indicate a side pillar burst suddenly as a continuous miner was operating, trapping the three men under a collapsed mine well.

The two other injured workers were identified by local media as Terry Scott and Johnny Nantz.

While a US Mine Safety and Health Administration spokeswoman could not provide a current medical status for either, she said their injuries did not appear to be life-threatening.

“Our deepest sympathies go out to Lenny’s wife, children, extended family, friends and co-workers,” Lone Mountain president and general manager Thurman Holcomb said Wednesday morning.

“We will work closely with the US Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Commonwealth of Kentucky to investigate this tragic incident fully.”

The fatal accident at Huff Creek is the mine’s fourth in 11 years. Two miners died there in 2002 and a single death was recorded in 2006.

Its non-fatal days lost rate has been consistently below the national average over that same time period.

According to federal data, an ongoing MSHA inspection at the 124-worker mine that has been ongoing since July 1 has so far resulted in 13 alleged violations. Some of the mine’s recent violations have been for roof control violations.

Huff Creek is idle pending the completion of the federal, state and internal investigations.

Gilliam’s death is the 12 in coal in 2012, and the second in Kentucky. In the first incident, a miner welding a liner to a dozer blade was struck by it when a supporting jack slipped.

Earlier this week, federal officials confirmed US coal fatalities from roof and rib collapses were on a downward trend.

Between 2003 and 2007, 28 miners died in underground roof or wall collapses, compared with 19 between 2008 and 2012.

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