House Bill 207 Asks For Mine Safety Changes

By: Jon Sonnheim Email
By: Jon Sonnheim Email

They've died in explosions and rock falls, now their widows are supporting new legislation they hope will prevent those accidents in the future.

Imagine that 16 teachers were killed while working in Kentucky in 2006 or that 16 legislators died while trying to make a living for their family.

16 coal miners did die in Kentucky last year and that was the point mine safety advocates, widows of fallen miners and legislators were trying to make in Hazard Tuesday in support of a new mine safety bill.

It was a veritable who's who among Kentucky coal mining accident victims, over the past several years.

Each surviving family with their own "What If" story to tell.

"If the coal miners had been communicating the way they were supposed to be, the rock fall could have been prevented," Meleah Cole said.

"They didn't elevate him, they didn't cover him for shock, they didn't do anything," Stella Morris said.

They say the laws are written in coal miner's blood meaning it takes death and tragedy to produce change.

"Reality sparks solutions, and we don't always see the problem and that's what we've done, we've seen the problem," Brent Yonts said.

Because of these families' pain, Yonts says he hopes changes in mine safety are just around the corner.

House Bill 207 is asking for more inspections, more emergency technicians, and more saved lives.

"It may cost a few extra dollars to do this, but in the long run, it's going to save so much grief for families," Stella Morris said.

These families have not stopped thinking about what they lost in the coal mines.

Representative Yonts says House Bill 207 will go in front of the natural resource committee when the general assembly reconvenes in February.


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