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Memorial Service Is Aug. 7 for Worker Who Died in Explosion at Paradise Mine in Muhlenberg County

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Union Funeral Home
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A memorial service is being held Aug. 7 for the worker who fell into a mine shaft in Muhlenberg County on July 31.

Sixty-two-year-old Richard Knapp was presumed dead after an explosion that occurred while he was working to close off the shaft at the Paradise mine near Central City.

The memorial service will be at Union Funeral Home in Knapp’s hometown of West Frankfort, Illinois.

Knapp is survived by his wife, a son, a daughter, three grandchildren and several other relatives.

Recovery efforts where obstructed for several days by high levels of methane in the mine shaft.

Those levels dissipated enough after a few days to allow cameras to be lowered into the 380-foot shaft with water at the bottom, but officials said there was no sight of the fallen worker.

The Kentucky mine owner, KenAmerican Resources, announced on Aug. 5 that recovery efforts were halted due to ongoing concerns for the safety of mine rescue workers.

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

State and federal investigators are trying to determine the cause of the explosion.  The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a preliminary report on July 31, but it could take months for a final report to be issued. 

Rhonda Miller joined WKU Public Radio in 2015. She has worked as Gulf Coast reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting, where she won Associated Press, Edward R. Murrow and Green Eyeshade awards for stories on dead sea turtles, health and legal issues arising from the 2010 BP oil spill and homeless veterans.
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