Miner dies in underground accident

By: Marcus Conroy Email
By: Marcus Conroy Email

The state is investigating a fatal accident at a Martin County mine.

Officials say 54 year-old Robert L. Cook of Inez was pinned by an underground miner machine, and died from blunt force trauma to the chest.

Cook was killed at the Czar Mine near the Martin-Johnson county line, just down the road from the airport.

State officials say this is the first fatality in a Kentucky mine in 2011, which is one too many.

Investigators with the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing say that around 8:00 Friday morning, Cook was working underground when he was pinned by the boom of a three-ton continuous miner.

"Basically suffocated him causing cardiac arrest," said Martin County Coroner Joe Mullins.

Mullins says Cook died before help could reach him.

"We're not sure yet exactly why that happened, or how it happened," said Dick Brown, with the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing.

Brown says the state and Mine Safety and Health Administration were on the scene all day Friday. They will continue investigating what happened before, during, and after the accident.

"The mines in that area are known for safety," said Mullins.

He says this is a tough day for many in the close-knit Inez community, including the victim's son who Mullins says works in the same mines.

"The family is very distraught of course, and can't understand why this would happen to their family member," said Mullins.

Cook's family is expected to make funeral arrangements Saturday morning at Phelps and Son funeral home in Inez.

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