August 13, 2007 The Pump Handle 1Comment

In Indiana on Friday, three men died from a 500-foot plunge down an air shaft being built at a coal mine:

Christopher Todd Richardson, 38, of Cedar Bluff, Virginia
Daniel McFadden, 66, of Greybull, Wyoming
Jarred A. Ashmore, 23, of Henderson, Kentucky

The Associated Press reports:

The trip [into the shaft] in the open-top bucket Friday was routine, but the bucket was somehow upset as it was descending, said George Zugel, director of safety and health for Frontier-Kemper Constructors Inc. The company is building the 550-foot vertical ventilation shaft at the Gibson County Coal mine in southwestern Indiana.

“I can’t express enough these were more than co-workers, these were our very close personal friends,” Zugel said. “It’s terrible.”

No other injuries were reported, and authorities said no one else was in the bucket. The “sinking bucket” can hold six to 10 people and is about 6 feet high, worker John Ervin said.

“I don’t understand how this could have happened,” Ervin said.

At the start of a shift, the bucket typically takes about six people down to the work area at the bottom of the shaft, Ervin said. The bucket is inspected daily, he said.

Also from AP:

[Daniel] McFadden was one of the founders of Frontier-Kemper Constructors Inc., the company building the 550-foot ventilation shaft at the Gibson County Coal mine in southwestern Indiana, the Evansville Courier & Press reported.

He retired in 1995 to a Wyoming ranch and was at the construction site Friday to tour the progress at the shaft as part of the company’s 30th anniversary celebration, a family spokeswoman told the newspaper. McFadden founded Frontier Constructors in 1965, and the company merged with Kemper Constructors in 1977.

Kathy Snyder at MineSafetyWatch has more on the sinking of mine shafts (thanks to Tammy at Weekly Toll for the link). Like so much of the coal mining process, it’s dangerous work.

One thought on “Three Deaths at Indiana Mine

  1. Mining work CAN be dangerous, but it also can be done safely. The key is for companies to invest in the equipment and personnel to ensure that it is done safely. Personnel might mean a full-time safety coordinator, but it could also mean, providing the resources so miners can participate in safety and health committees, and having adequate staffing on every shift so that mine-examinations are done thoroughly, belt-lines are cleaned continuously, ventilation controls are maintained, equipment is checked and repaired promptly, etc., etc. etc. Mining is DANGEROUS when these preventative measures are not taken.

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