Kentucky Accident Report On Fatal Mine Explosion Is Released

By: Danielle Morgan Email
By: Danielle Morgan Email

The state accident report on the fatal explosion at the Kentucky Darby Mine Number One in Harlan County will be released to the public Friday morning, but WYMT has an exclusive copy as state investigators met with the five miner's widows Thursday night.

The main thing we find in this report, is proof that this mine was operating unsafe when the explosion happened.

It includes eight new citations for the mine, three of which are blamed for the deaths of all five men.

The report begins with details of the men reporting for work in the early morning hours of May 20th and ends with eight citations against the mine where they took their last breaths.

Perhaps one of the most disturbing details is a picture of the Foreman, Amon Cotton Brock's notepad with a list of things to do that night.

The list read, cut straps, two bulkhead seals and it's that action that is listed in one of the citations blamed for the deadly blast.

The report says Cotton Brock and and Jimmy Lee used an open flame torch to cut a metal roof strap over a seal, that was the spark of the deadly blast.

The other two citations that are marked as causing five men to die blame mine management for not knowing the approved ventilation plan or seal construction requirements that would keep dangerous amounts of methane gas from leaking into where miners were working.

In fact improper construction is the center of the five citations.

State investigator Tracy Stumbo said he is a witness in the case and could not comment on anything in the report.

The one thing missing from the report is who gave Amon Cotton Brock and Jimmy Lee orders to use torches in an unsafe area of the mine.

State investigators were not allowed to ask the federal inspector questions during the investigation process.

Inspector Stanly Sturgill had been in the mine just days before the explosion so maybe we'll get an answer to that question when the federal report is released.

The OMSL report is available online at www.EPPC.ky.gov, www.DNR.ky.gov and www.OMSL.ky.gov


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