Two Kentucky accidents injure 10

A PAIR of incidents at coal mines in Kentucky last Thursday left eight men injured at a Muhlenberg County underground mine and two hurt at a Floyd County highwall operation.

Donna Schmidt

The underground incident occurred at KenAmerican Resources’ Paradise mine at about 4pm local time when a mantrip travelling down the slope wrecked, a US Mine Safety and Health Administration representative told ILN.

“One miner suffered a compound fracture of the leg. A second miner complained of lower back and abdominal pain,” the agency said, adding that none of the injuries were reported as life-threatening.

KenAmerican owner Murray Energy confirmed the injury details, and spokesperson Rob Murray told ILN that an investigation has commenced to determine cause.

While neither MSHA nor the operator released the identities of the miners, local media said the four individuals who remained in the hospital as of Friday were Robby Turner, 22; John Wooten, 28; James Arnold, 23; and William Alloway, 25. Those released by Friday included Robert Willett, 23; David Miller, 29; Donald Pearson, 25; and Blake Stewart, 22.

MSHA confirmed to ILN that a 103k closure order was issued to idle operations pending its investigation of the scene and vehicle. All of the mine’s mantrips will also be evaluated before mining can commence.

The second accident involved Harold Skaggs, 51 and Frank McCoart at the Frasure Creek Mining complex, who were struck by an unoccupied truck.

“At about 2am, a foreman was delivering parts to a drill and was injured when he got out of his (Ford F100) truck and the truck struck him,” MSHA told ILN.

“The truck also injured the drill operator. The foreman is in critical condition and the drill operator has back and head injuries,” the agency said, adding that both were life-flighted to a medical facility after the incident and a 103k closure order was issued.

Skaggs and McCoart were both employees of Austin Powder.

While Frasure Creek officials could not be located for comment, the state’s Office of Mine Safety and Licensing told local media outlets that the 78-worker mine has been cited 13 non-compliance orders and seven more serious closure violations so far this year.

"The closures generally would be for problems with a piece of equipment. That equipment would be put out of service until repaired and re-inspected," state agency officials said.

Office spokesperson Dick Brown added that its investigators also still do not know why the truck rolled down the gravel haul road at the operations, but that the cause of the accident was "failure of a mechanical foot brake on the vehicle".