Officials stop recovery efforts at Paradise Mine


BREMEN, Ky. (WEHT) – The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet announced on Monday that search and recovery efforts have been called off for a 62-year-old welder/iron worker.

Richard L. Knapp, of West Frankfort, Ill., suffered critical injuries following an explosion on July 31, which caused him to fall into a mine shaft.

The incident happened at Paradise Mine in Bremen. Officials said Knapp is presumed dead.

Kenamerica employees and mine safety officials worked last week to clear the 380-foot elevator shaft of explosive methane gases in order to access the shaft and try to recover Knapp’s body.

On Saturday, the gas dissipated enough to allow the lowering of a camera, which caught no sight of the worker at the water-filled bottom, officials said.

The mine owners made the decision to permanently halt further recovery efforts, in order to prevent any rescue workers from being put in jeopardy.

“We were deeply saddened to learn of the tragic accident at the Paradise Mine in Muhlenberg County,” said Governor Matt Bevin. “Our dedicated coal miners and mine workers do so much every day to keep our communities running strong. As Kentuckians, we want to offer our prayers and support to Mr. Knapp’s family, friends and co-workers during this very difficult time.”

Knapp was an employee of Fricke Management & Contracting out of Murphysboro, Ill.

He was working to construct a form which would be used to fill the mine shaft with concrete, as part of an effort to seal and close the idled mine.

“While we had 25 mine safety personnel from across the state at the site, regrettably it became too unsafe to continue the recovery efforts,” Secretary Snavely. “But we have already begun looking into the cause of this accident and will make every attempt to use what we learn going forward to keep miners and mine workers as safe as possible.”

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(This story was originally published on August 5, 2019)

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