Body of Kentucky coal miner found after underground mine collapse

Published 9:52 pm Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Crews have recovered the body of a Kentucky coal miner missing after a roof collapsed deep underground, officials said.

Officials recovered 33-year-old James D. Brown about 9 p.m. Monday at the D-29 Darby Fork mine in Harlan County. Brown began his shift as a roof bolt operator late Sunday at the mine, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet said. The roof fell about an hour later, more than 2 miles (3kilometers) from the entrance.

It was the sixth coal mining death in the U.S. this year and second in Kentucky.

Brown had three children and worked for more than a decade in mining, said Tony Oppegard, a lawyer for Brown’s family. Oppegard is urging the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration to allow a family representative to observe interviews conducted by accident investigators.

INMET Mining CEO Hunter Hobson confirmed Brown’s death to WYMT-TV on Monday night.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with James’ family and also his coworkers at INMET,” Hobson said. “We were praying for a different outcome.”

The state cabinet said an equipment operator was nearby when the roof collapsed on Brown.

“We are heartbroken at the news,” Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear said in a statement. “Please join me in expressing my deep condolences to his family, friends and community.”

Mine operations remained suspended Tuesday while an investigation continues, state officials said.