’I never did see him again’: Families reflect on 50th anniversary of Hurricane Creek Mine Disaster

Published: Dec. 30, 2020 at 6:18 PM EST
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LESLIE COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) - On December 30, 1970, a mine explosion killed 38 men and left one survivor.

The mine exploded when coal dust ignited explosives in mine shafts 15 and 16.

”I remember seeing him leave. I never did see him again,” said the son of a coal miner Glenn Harris.

Harris turned 13-years-old two months before the explosion. His dad, Lester Harris, was one of the men who died.

”There’s times when I go to the cemetery and talk to him when I need to,” added Harris.

On Wednesday, families and community members remember the men who died. A day that is still fresh on their minds.

“Everything I’ve heard about dad, was he was a very kind and loving person,” said the daughter of a coal miner Deborah Napier.

Napier was only four-years-old when her dad died. She only remembers her dad through the stories her mom tells about him.

”I think he would be very proud the way mom done with us,” said Napier. “I think he would be proud of his children,” she added.

Greg Walker, the owner of Dwayne Walker Funeral Home, said he was 14-years-old when the blast happened. He helped his dad and other local funeral homes identify the bodies of the men.

”I do remember there were a lot of young men there,” said Greg Walker. “That stuck with me, not a lot older than me 18 to 24,” he added.

The miners of 50 years ago leaving a lasting legacy on miners like Jonathan Sizemore.

“Kind of like a brotherhood, I guess you could say, whether you work together or not,” said a member of Hillbilly J.E.D and former coal miner Jonathan Sizemore. “You kind of know what each other’s been through you know,” he added.

Family members remembered their loved ones and the lives the miners lived.

“He’s the reason that you’re warm, that there’s food, people like him that sacrificed everything so his kids and grandkids could have,” said Harris.

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