A Sturgis man died after an accident at an underground coal mine in Western Kentucky early Saturday.
Lester Daugherty Jr., 48, was working overnight at the River View mine in Waverly in Union County when he was critically injured while “performing maintenance on a continuous miner,” the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet said in a news release.
Daugherty was a mechanic with 16 years’ experience.
The Kentucky Division of Mine Safety last inspected the 16,000-foot-deep mine Oct. 18, according to the news release.
Daugherty had begun his shift at the mine at 11 p.m. Friday, the state said. After the accident early Saturday, investigators with the state Division of Mine Safety were sent to the mine, and operations at the site were to remain shut down Saturday.
The mine is owned by Alliance Resource Partners, which says that the River View mine “utilizes continuous mining units employing room-and-pillar mining techniques to produce high-sulfur coal and is the largest mine of its type in the nation.”
The company says the mine produced 9.4 million tons of coal last year.
Kentucky Energy and Environment Secretary Rebecca Goodman said the state “will to do everything that we can to understand how this happened and prevent such future loss of life among miners.”
“We are deeply saddened today to learn of the passing of Mr. Daugherty Jr.,” Gov. Andy Beshear said in the release. “We join everyone across Kentucky who offer their prayers and support for his family, friends and community as they mourn his untimely loss.”
Daugherty’s death was Kentucky’s first mining fatality this year.
There were three mining fatalities in Kentucky in 2020, according to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration — one at a surface mine in Pike County Dec. 15, one at an Alliance-owned underground mine in Hopkins County Oct. 13, 2020, and one at a Bell County surface mine Oct. 9, 2020.