FRANKFORT -- Kentucky now has had its fourth mining fatality so far this year with the death of a Hopkins County miner Thursday.
The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet says 39-year-old Jeremy Elder of Providence, a miner helper with 15 years of experience, suffered critical injuries in a vehicle accident at the Alliance Resource Partners LP Cardinal mine in Madisonville. He was brought to the surface but did not survive.
The Kentucky Department for Natural Resources, Division of Mine Safety, sent investigators to the site following the afternoon accident. All mining operations were shut down Thursday and production remained closed Friday in the accident area.
Elder was the Sunday School director at Shady Groves Baptist Church and the father of two young boys.
"Across the Commonwealth, our hearts are broken following the tragic passing of Jeremy Elder on Thursday in Western Kentucky," said Gov. Matt Bevin. "We ask that all who recognize the healing power of prayer, please join us in remembering his wife, children, friends, and community as they mourn the loss of this hard-working man. May we never take for granted the vital work and personal sacrifice of our dedicated miners."
The Division of Mine Safety last inspected the mine this past June.
"My deepest sympathies go out to the Elder family," Kentucky Energy and Environment Secretary Charles G. Snavely said. "We are investigating this accident and are determined to do everything that we can to prevent any such future loss of life among miners."
Western Kentucky was also the site of the last mining fatality, which occurred in Muhlenberg County. Richard L. Knapp, 62, of West Frankfort, Illinois, a welder/iron worker, died following a methane blast at the Kenamerican Resources, Inc. Paradise Mine in Bremen, on July 31.
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 had only one mining death during 2018.