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One Killed, Three Trapped Briefly in Accident

January 8, 1986

LINCOLN COLLIERY, Pa. (AP) _ A mine cave-in killed one man on his first day on the job and briefly trapped three others Tuesday, a state police spokesman said.

The body of Clayton Knorr, 21, of Gordon, was recovered from the Rothermel Coal Co. mine about 3 p.m., and he was pronounced dead by Schuylkill County Deputy Coroner Neil Minnig about 45 minutes later, said state police Trooper Thomas J. Slane.

One of the miners who escaped, Mark Tielman, 23, said he and Knorr received no safety instructions before entering the shaft at 7 a.m., even though the jobs were their first in a mine.

″They didn’t tell us to do anything in case of an emergency,″ said Tielman. ″They said just start scooping coal,″ said Tielman, who had known Knorr since high school.

Efforts to reach company officials by telephone Tuesday night were unsuccessful.

The cave-in occurred after an explosive charge was detonated in the 20- foot-wide shaft, Tielman said.

″I heard a crack, but it didn’t really faze me,″ he said.

″About two seconds later, I felt a little coal dust on my helmet. I looked up and saw the boards start to crack pretty good and I said, ’She’s coming down. Let’s go.‴

Knorr ″must have sat there and froze,″ Tielman said.

The other two men were ″seasoned miners,″ said state police Cpl. Martin Heckman.

Susan Woods, a state Department of Environmental Resources spokeswoman in Harrisburg, said the mine holds valid DER permits, received favorable inspections all six times it was inspected in 1985 and was considered a safe operation. The last inspection was Dec. 16, she said.

The mine employed five people in 1984 and produced 1,455 tons of anthracite that year, the most recent year for which figures were available, Ms. Woods said.

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