Second Surface Miner Killed Within Two Days

July 21, 2006 11:08 AM EDT

A Pike County miner was killed in a machinery accident at a surface mine, the second Kentucky surface mining death in two days, state officials said Friday.

John May, 39, of Hardy, a road grader operator, was struck byhis machine about 7:30 p.m. EDT Thursday as it rolled backward "ata high rate of speed" at Cam Mining's Slate Branch Mine atFreeburn, according to the state's accident report.

May, a 20-year mining veteran, was taken to Pikeville Medical Center and pronounced dead about 8:50 p.m. by deputy coroner Ernest Casebolt, the report said.The state Office of Mine Safety and Licensing was investigating the incident on Friday.

"It's still to be determined what exactly Mr. May was doing "behind the machine, said agency spokesman Chuck Wolfe. A clerk at the mine's office said the company would not comment during an ongoing investigation.

On Tuesday, a Knott County miner died at a surface mine near Hindman. Jason Mosley, 28, of Hindman was killed when a highwall collapsed on him at the Hendrickson Equipment's Smith Branch No. 1 mine.

The two deaths bring the number of Kentucky mining deaths in2006 to 13, according to Office of Mine Safety and Licensing.Thirteen fatal accidents are 13 too many," said LaJuana Wilcher, secretary of the Environmental and Public Protection Cabinet, which oversees mine safety and licensing, in a statement Friday.

"While the need for constant attention to safety is obvious, our mine safety analysts will continue to remind miner to make safety a personal priority. "Earlier this year, two underground miners were also killed in a two-day span.

In April, Rick McKnight was crushed by a machine he was workingat a Harlan County mine, and David Chad Bolen was killed when material fell on top of him at a Pike County mine.