David Bolen, 28, with three years as a miner, was killed April 20 when a 20-foot piece of rock fell on him at Tri Star Coals No. 1 mine, a small underground mine in Pike County, according to press reports.
The mine has not produced coal since 1999, according to statistics from the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA). At that time it employed 18 people. Tri Star took over the operation in May 2005 and has been cited by MSHA for safety violations 63 times since then. The company has paid none of the fines, the largest of which was $154.
Some 14 hours after Bolens death, Rick McKnight, 45, died after being pinned between mining machines underground at Huff Creek No. 1 Mine in Harlan County, owned by Arch Coal subsidiary Lone Mountain Processing, the April 21 Lexington Herald-Leader reported. He is the third miner in five years to be killed on the job at that mine.
As the coal bosses press for maximum production to take advantage of booming prices, the pace of deaths in the mines is increasing. The fatalities on the job from January through April of this year now equal the deaths in those four months for the last three years combined.
On the Picket Line
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