Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet
Governor Fletcher meets with families of miners killed in roof fall
CUMBERLAND, Ky. (Aug. 16, 2005) – Governor Ernie Fletcher today expressed his condolences to the families of two miners killed in a Harlan County roof fall last week.
Governor Fletcher offered assurances the state will thoroughly study retreat mining – the method being used when a series of roof falls killed Russell L. Cole, 39, and Brandon Wilder, 23, both of Letcher County.
Governor Fletcher also recognized workers for the state Office of Mine Safety and Licensing (OMSL) and Stillhouse Mining LLC. Two rescue workers were injured by falling rocks during the attempt to reach Cole and Wilder.
As a result of the fatalities, following two similar fatalities in 2004, an outside professional engineering firm will be engaged by the state to study retreat mining, Governor Fletcher said.
“Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with the families who have suffered these difficult losses,” Fletcher said. “The deaths of Mr. Cole and Mr. Wilder should serve as a reminder to all Kentuckians that, while we pay low rates for our electricity, the cost to extract coal can come at a high price for others. We want this study to provide us with the data and information that will be used to help protect Kentucky coal miners.”
Governor Fletcher said the study will include a review of current retreat mining methods, a look at other studies and the use of new technologies, Kentucky’s unique geological conditions and programs in other states.
Rescue workers were recognized by Governor Fletcher, including Daven Hoskins, an OMSL inspector, and Mark Sheldon, a Stillhouse Mining employee. They were injured when a second roof fall occurred while rescue efforts were under way in the mine. Both required hospital treatment but have recovered.