Answers sought after 3 plunge to death at mine

/ Source: The Associated Press

Three men who plunged 500 feet in a coal mine’s air shaft died of blunt impact trauma, a coroner said Saturday, but officials still weren’t certain what caused the fall from a construction bucket.

Coroner Richard Hickrod identified the victims of Friday’s accident as Christopher Todd Richardson, 38, of Cedar Bluff, Va., Daniel McFadden, 66, of Greybull, Wyo., and Jarred A. Ashmore, 23, of Henderson, Ky.

McFadden was one of the founders of Frontier-Kemper Constructors Inc., the company building the 550-foot ventilation shaft at the Gibson County Coal mine in southwestern Indiana, the Evansville Courier & Press reported.

He retired in 1995 to a Wyoming ranch and was at the construction site Friday to tour the progress at the shaft as part of the company’s 30th anniversary celebration, a family spokeswoman told the newspaper. McFadden founded Frontier Constructors in 1965, and the company merged with Kemper Constructors in 1977.

A phone recording at Frontier-Kemper in Evansville said its offices were closed Saturday.

No one else was injured in the accident, said George Zugel, director of safety and health for Frontier-Kemper. The bucket somehow shifted as it was descending, Zugel said, but it was unclear what caused that movement.

Officials from the Indiana Department of Labor and the Indiana Bureau of Mines were investigating.

The mine, owned by Tulsa, Okla.-based Alliance Resource Partners, is about 30 miles north of Evansville.