One coal miner killed, two injured in Harlan County accident

kward1@herald-leader.comAugust 6, 2013 

One miner died and two others were injured Tuesday in an underground coal mine in Harlan County Tuesday.

Lenny D. Gilliam, 56, of Appalachia, Va., died after becoming trapped in the Huff Creek Mine, near Holmes Mill on Black Mountain, according to a news release from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet.

The accident was reported about noon. Brown said Gilliam was the last to be brought out of the mine, about 2:30 p.m.

Miners Terry Scott and Johnny Nantz suffered injuries that did not appear life-threatening, said Dick Brown, spokesman for the Energy and Environment Cabinet.

According to the news release, the miners became trapped during "retreat mining operations."

"Preliminary reports indicate the side of a coal pillar burst as the continuous-miner machine was operating, causing the miners to be trapped," the news release stated.

The mine is operated by Lone Mountain Processing, a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Arch Coal. Lone Mountain operates three underground mines in Harlan County.

The Huff Creek mine was cited three times in July and once in May for roof control plan violations, according to data from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The death occurred a day after federal officials cited a drop in the number of underground mining fatalities attributed to roof and wall collapses.

Gilliam is the second miner to die on the job in Kentucky in 2013.

The Associated Press contributed to this story. Karla Ward: (859) 231-3314. Twitter: @HLpublicsafety.

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