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Recovery Suspended for Worker Following Western Kentucky Mine Explosion

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet

Search and recovery efforts have been suspended for a worker involved in an explosion at a Muhlenberg County mine. 

Richard Knapp is presumed dead following the blast last week at the Paradise Mine in Bremen.  He was a 62-year-old welder and iron worker from West Frankfort, Illinois. 

John Mura, a spokesman for the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, told WKU Public Radio that crews worked for two days to lower the methane levels so a camera could be dropped into the mine.

“The camera was lowered multiple times down the shaft and into the water at the very bottom, and there was no sign, unfortunately, of Mr. Knapp," stated Mura.

The mine is owned by Kenamerican Resources, which decided to call off further attempts at locating Knapp’s body due to safety issues. 

Knapp was employed by Fricke Management and Contracting in Murphysboro, Illinois. 

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

Two methane gas explosions in the shaft caused Knapp to fall into the opening. 

State and federal investigators are still trying to determine the cause of the explosion.  The U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a preliminary report on July 31.  It could take months to issue a final report.

Lisa is a Scottsville native and WKU alum. She has worked in radio as a news reporter and anchor for 18 years. Prior to joining WKU Public Radio, she most recently worked at WHAS in Louisville and WLAC in Nashville. She has received numerous awards from the Associated Press, including Best Reporter in Kentucky. Many of her stories have been heard on NPR.
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