Update: Recovery efforts stopped in Western Kentucky mining accident
Search and recovery efforts were called off Monday for Richard Knapp.
Mineworkers say it is too dangerous to lower workers into the mine to search for Knapp's body.
Last week the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) worked to clear the mine elevator shaft of explosive methane gasses so they could access the shaft to recover Knapp's body. Saturday, those gasses dissipated enough to allow a camera to be lowered down into the mine. The camera caught no sight of Knapp.
“We were deeply saddened to learn of the tragic accident at the Paradise Mine in Muhlenberg County,” said Governor Matt Bevin. “Our dedicated coal miners and mine workers do so much every day to keep our communities running strong. As Kentuckians, we want to offer our prayers and support to Mr. Knapp’s family, friends and co-workers during this very difficult time.”
Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely also extended his deepest sympathies to the Knapp family in a news release.
“While we had 25 mine safety personnel from across the state at the site, regrettably it became too unsafe to continue the recovery efforts,” Secretary Snavely. “But we have already begun looking into the cause of this accident and will make every attempt to use what we learn going forward to keep miners and mine workers as safe as possible.”
Officials from the Kentucky Energy & Environment Cabinet (EEC) are on-site at Paradise Mine in Central City, Kentucky where an accident occurred involving a 62-year-old welder/ironworker.
At approximately 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Richard L. Knapp, an employee of Fricke Management & Contracting, was constructing a form which would be used to fill a mine shaft with concrete. This was part of an effort to seal and close the mine.
A methane gas explosion in the shaft caused Knapp to fall. Recovery efforts are now underway.
EEC mine personnel from across the state, as well as representatives from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), and owner Kenamerican Resources, Inc. are on-site to assist with the recovery operation. 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 as all parties work as swiftly as possible in the recovery effort,” Secretary Snavely said.
We will continue to follow this story as information becomes available.