Second worker dies in mine plant collapse

Published 11:22 am Tuesday, November 7, 2023


The second of two workers who were trapped inside a collapsed coal preparation plant in Martin County has died.

Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear in a Friday afternoon post on the social media platform X confirmed the death. The Lexington Herald-Leader newspaper had identified the second worker as 57-year-old Alvin Nees, who had been missing after the coal preparation plant at the former Pontiki coal mine collapsed Tuesday.

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“This is a heartbreaking situation and I hope everyone will join Britainy and me in praying for the families of these two workers and this entire community,” Beshear said in his post.

The first worker,  identified by the Lexington Herald-Leader as Billy Ray “Bo” Daniels, had died earlier this week after an attempt to free him by surgically amputating his leg had failed.

West Virginia-based Lexington Coal Co., LLC, owned the collapsed structure and had been given a state permit years ago to reclaim the former coal mine site, which included tearing down the mine’s coal preparation plant.

The company is led by Jeremy Hoops, the son of Jefferey Hoops, CEO of a bankrupt coal company, Blackjewel, that gained notoriety in 2019 when it withheld final paychecks from coal miners who then blocked a coal train for two months. The Harlan County miners were eventually paid by Blackjewel.