Update: Officials release cause of death for Harlan County miner killed in roof collapse

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Published: Mar. 21, 2022 at 10:59 AM EDT|Updated: Mar. 22, 2022 at 10:44 AM EDT
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HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - 3/22/2022 Update: Officials with the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet confirm to WYMT James Brown’s body was found approximately three miles into the mine and his cause of death is listed as the roof fall he was caught in.

You can read more about this story below.

Original Story (3/21/2022):

Officials with INMET Mining, the owner of the D-29 Darby Fork Mine in Harlan County, have confirmed the death of a man who went missing Sunday night.

“It is with our deepest sorrow that we must now confirm the passing of James Brown,” INMET CEO Hunter Hobson told WYMT. “Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with James’ family and also his coworkers at INMET. We were praying for a different outcome. At this time, we have no further comment as we transition from the recovery efforts and continue working with both State and Federal agencies to determine what happened.”

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet officials spent much of Monday for 33-year-old James D. Brown of Lynch who was working at the mine in Holmes Mill. They say a section of a roof collapsed.

“Our sincere hope is that Mr. Brown is found safe,” Kentucky Energy and Environment Secretary Rebecca Goodman said earlier Monday. “We will then begin the process of examining what happened at this mine and how it could have been prevented.”

Brown had 13 years of mining experience as a roof bolter. He began his shift Sunday night at 10:00 p.m. We are told Brown was working about 14,000 feet underground when the roof collapsed, about one hour later.

Mining operations were shut down during the search which took most of the day Monday.

Earlier in the day, political leaders from across the state shared thoughts and prayers.

“The Kentuckians who go into mines daily to provide the coal that helps power this country face particular dangers and deserve our gratitude,” said Gov. Andy Beshear. “Britainy and I are praying for the miner and his family – we all hope for his safe recovery.”

Angie Hatton, 94th District Representative in the Kentucky House of Representatives, shared her concerns on Facebook.

“My heart is hurting for the missing coal miner in Harlan County today, for his family, his co-workers and the rescue team,” said Hatton. “A search is continuing after a roof collapse at the D-29 Darby Fork mine in Holmes Mill last night. So many in East Kentucky who have loved ones underground know the anguish these folks must be feeling.”

She said Rep. Bowling, Rep. Fugate, Senator Turner and she continue to monitor the situation and she will share details when she hears any official information.

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