On Tuesday, October 14, 2014, Justin Mize, aged 31, was killed in an accident at the Tinsley Branch Mine in Bell County KY and, as I recall, the story made little impact on the overall news reports of the day. But then on March 7, 2015, I found an update to the story on the Internet news page of WKYT-TV 27 with considerably more information about the reason Mr. Mize died and realized instantly that it was a story which deserved to be addressed in a blog post. It is a story about a type of tragedy in the mining industry which was common in Appalachia before unionization in the 1920's and which is becoming more common once again in the 21st century nearly a hundred years after these types of tragedies had nearly stopped. Justin Mize died because he had been induced to enter a 67 foot deep auger hole to retrieve a broken chain from a mining machine.
The WKYT news story quoted the official report about the accident: "Foreman **** asked the machine operator if he was going to retrieve the chain. When the operator refused, 31-year-old Justin Mize said he would go, even though other miners said it was too dangerous. The rock fell on Mize seconds after he entered the opening. Workers were able to free him but he died later that day, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration." (WKYT-TV27)