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Widow of of coal miner does not want mine inspections to decrease

By: Angela Sparkman Email
By: Angela Sparkman Email


For coal mining families, each day the fear of losing a loved one is probably in the back of their minds.

One widow whose husband died in a mine accident says a proposal to cut down on inspections is a bad idea.

Stella Morris lost her husband Bud Morris eight years ago in a coal mine accident in Harlan County. She says his death could have been prevented. David "Bud" Morris was hit by a ram car in the H & D mine in Harlan County. Both of his legs were nearly severed. Morris eventually bled to death. Stella believes her husband would have survived if a second mine emergency technician was on duty at the time of the accident.

Following his death, she then fought for state legislators to improve mine safety. One of the improvements led to more mine inspections. It increased to six each year.

"When you can fight for somebody else to stay safe, even though we lost him, I have family still underground and I'll continue to do whatever they need us to do with this mine safety bill," Stella Morris said.

Stella's son is growing up without his father. She does not want to see other families to suffer the same, but she worries the Kentucky state legislature's proposal to reduce mine inspections to two per year would hurt miners.

"If there's something going on in the mines and they're not being inspected on a regular basis, there can be fatalities there and we just don't want anymore families to go through what we went through," she said.

Lawmakers say the budget cuts to the Office of Mine Safety and Licensing are needed because there are fewer coal mines operating and fewer miners working.

"I understand they need to make changes or cut some stuff, but I don't understand why they think it's not important to have mine inspections. Even though you only have a few mines operating, those mines need to be safe," Stella Morris said.

State Senate President Robert Stivers has said under the proposed plan, state officials could still step up visits to mines with safety concerns.


Mining inspectors might spend less time examining coal operations if a Senate budget passes.

State law requires each mine be inspected six times yearly.

Under the proposed budget, that number would be cut to only two annual inspections.

United Mine Workers International Vice President Steve Earle says the cutback will put miners' lives in danger.

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