Kentucky saw its first coal-mine fatality Thursday when a miner was killed in an accident in Pike County.
Ray Hatfield Jr., 43, of Hi Hat in Floyd County, was a conveyor belt attendant with 23 years’ experience, according to a news release from the state Energy and Environment Cabinet.
The accident happened at the R&C Coal LLC Mine No. 2, an underground mine near Pikeville. The cabinet said investigators from the Division of Mine Safety were still at the mine Friday and did not release information on how Hatfield died.
However, the preliminary report from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration said Hatfield was shoveling up loose coal near the beltline when he came in contact with a moving roller and got tangled in the equipment.
There were no witnesses to the accident, MSHA said.
Pike County Coroner Russell Roberts said he went into the mine and pronounced Hatfield dead at 5:15 p.m. The MSHA report said he died several hours earlier.
“I’m asking all Kentuckians who understand and appreciate the power of prayer to please join with me in praying for the family, friends and co-workers of the Pikeville coal miner who tragically lost his life on the job yesterday,” Gov. Matt Bevin said in a news release.
Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely also offered his condolences.
Federal records indicate that the mine is small, reporting 14,636 tons of coal production last year. The mine has nine employees, according to MSHA.
There were two coal-mine fatalities in Kentucky in 2016, one in Webster County and one in Harlan County. That equaled the state’s record low.