Monday, Dec 9, 2013
White County Remembers Fallen Miner
WHITE COUNTY-- A mining accident that claimed the life of a White County man remains under investigation.
According to the county coroner, 47-year-old Robert Smith of Norris City died in an accident at Pattiki Mine Saturday. Authorities say a cart veered off of an underground path, hit the rib of the mine, and overturned.
Mine workers managed to get the cart off Smith and performed CPR as he was carried to the surface. Smith was later pronounced dead.
Coworkers said they were following behind Smith when his cart began weaving back and forth across the entry before taking a nose dive.
A man who worked at Pattiki for 27 years told us he felt the mine was safe, calling it an excellent place to work.
While accidents at the facility are not common, there was a fatality in 2008, which investigators attributed to a management failure to stress certain safety practices.
The loss has touched the mining community.
"Think everybody would say they worry about the people in the coal mines," Judy Headlee said.
"I have a lot of friends who work out there so when we heard someone was hurt we think oh my god," Eli Earl said, "Everybody's going around checking."
White County Coal owns the mine. The company issued a statement saying: "This is a sad day for all of us at Pattiki. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Smith family and we ask you to join us in extending support to this dedicated miner's family during this difficult time."
State and federal investigations of the accident are ongoing, but fewer mine inspectors are on the job because of the government shutdown. The company says initial efforts could not determine what caused the accident.
This was the third US mining death in as many days, the first time that's happened since 2002. Officials with the Mine Safety and Health Administration call it a troubling pattern.
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