MSHA: Mine Operator's Actions Led to Miner's Death
By Mary Meadows
May 16, 2020 - The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration reports that the actions of the operator of a Floyd County, Kentucky mine led to the death of a Pike County man last year.
Also, records also indicate that the mine "frequently documented" hazards that put the safety of miners at risk.
James Rick Senters
On May 7, MSHA issued the final report on the investigation into the death of James Rick Senters, 60, of Shelbiana, who died in November, about two weeks after an injury he suffered at Calvary Enterprises LLC mine No. 1 near Harold.
The report explains that a review committee examined Senters' medical records from before and after the incident and concluded that his injuries in the mine led to his death.
"The committee determined Mr. Senters' death to be chargeable to the mine operator," the report says.
Senters left behind his wife Evelyn Adkins Senters, son Jonathan (Jessica) Senters, daughter Kristi (Ryan) Tackett, two sisters, five grandchildren and other family members and friends.
Mine operators were identified as Harold E. Akers, Jim D. Akers and Benny Honaker, who was listed by MSHA as the mine superintendent of the Calvary No. 1 mine.
MSHA reported that Senters was injured in an incident on Oct. 18, when he was found "pinned" against a personnel carrier and was taken from the mine complaining of pain in his ribs and back. He was transported to Pikeville Medical Center, the report said, where he was diagnosed with broken ribs and fractured back.
On Oct. 25, Senters was released from PMC, the report says, and 10 days later, on Nov. 4, he was home when he complained about having trouble breathing and "suddenly became unresponsive, slumping to the floor."
He was taken by ambulance to PMC, where he was pronounced dead that morning.
Senters was buried in November at the Basil Robinson Cemetery on Greasy Creek in Pike County under direction of Lucas and Hall Funeral Home.
Investigators determined that a rib block of coal mixed with rock, weighing about 1,250 pounds, "struck Senters with an impact force of approximately 5,400 pounds," MSHA reported. MSHA determined that the company's rib support practices "did not control the ribs to protect miners from rib fall hazards."
MSHA issued enforcement actions against the company, one on Nov. 4 ceasing operations and one on Jan. 15, citing the company for not fully supporting or controlled coal or rock ribs.
MSHA reports that Calvary Enterprises LLC of Pike County has operated the mine since 2014, and since that time, the company has been cited with $23,524 in proposed penalties for 146 violations.
Last year, the mine employed 26 people, 21 of whom worked underground. They produced 76,735 tons of coal. MSHA reports the mine is now temporarily idled.
According to MSHA, the mine was inspected on Oct. 1, approximately 17 days prior to the rib fall that caused Senters' death. It was cited for issues with its mine ventilation plan, permanent splicing of trailing cables, quarterly sampling of mechanized mining units, communication signals and/or alarms and issues with power wires and cables.
The mine had two spot inspections in September. In one of them, on Sept. 23, the mine was cited for violation of a regulation that requires the method of mining used in a mine to "not expose any person to hazards caused by excessive widths of rooms, crosscuts and entries, or faulty pillar recovery methods." A final order on that violation was issued on Dec. 30, 2019. No violations were noted in the other spot inspection recorded that month.
Mines owned by Harold Akers and Jim Akers have been cited after a coal miner was killed in an incident.
MSHA reports that they were the principal officers of a mine operated by the Hubble Mining Company, the No. 9 mine in Eolia in Letcher County on Nov. 7, 2011, when Section Foreman Jerry E. Britton received fatal injuries while working near the section belt tailpiece while work was being conducted to move a belt conveyor.
MSHA determined that the company failed to ensure the machine was being used within its design perimeters and failed to properly train miners.
Harold and Jim Akers also owned the South Akers Mining Company near Myra, employing 30 people, in Pike County on September 16, 1999, when a roof fall covered continuous miner operator Ronnie Charles and knocked continuous miner helper David Ramey to his knees, according to another MSHA fatality report.
The edge of the roof fall covered Ramey's feet and ankles, MSHA reported, and trapped Charles.
Charles was recovered from the mine around six hours later and pronounced dead. He suffered "massive internal injuries," MSHA reported.
MSHA issued four citations after that incident, listing "faulty pillar recovery methods," the "practice of retreat mining coal" from areas where miners could not safely exit and "excessive pillar and barrier cut depths and widths" as contributing factors in the incident.
The full MSHA report on Senters' death is available online at www.msha.gov. Attempts to reach Harold or Jim Akers were unsuccessful this week.