Fatal Accident

Oct 7, 2011 11:46 PM by Josh Breslow

Family Mourns Loss Of Harlan County Miner

The family of a young Harlan County father killed Friday morning in a bizarre accident while working at an Eastern Kentucky mine is mourning their second tragedy in just a year.

Investigators said Richard Coots Jr., 23, an electrician and repairman at Owlco Energy in Letcher County was fixing a chain around 2:00 a.m. when he crawled under a mobile bridge. The bridge fell, crushing Coots.

"He was a good father, good husband, hard worker," said Linda Pendleton, Coots' aunt, who lives in Lexington. "It's just hard to believe he's gone... in my mind, he's still here."

Pendleton said everyone in the family referred to Richard Coots Jr. simply as "Junior."

"It just floored me. I was shocked," said Pendleton. "It's been a year since we buried his brother."

The man's younger brother, Justin Coots, 20, died late last year in a violent Harlan County crash, while on his way home from working at a coal mine.

"It's just hard to believe that within one year, you lose both of them," said Pendleton.

Coots leaves behind a wife and two young girls, 4 years old and 2-months old.

"He was tickled that he was going to be a father again and he only got to spend two months with her," Pendleton said.

The family tells LEX 18, Coots' other younger brother was with him in the mine when he died. They said he was the one who carried out his body.

Funeral arrangements for Coots are pending, but the family expects services will be early next week at Mt. Pleasant Funeral Home in Harlan County.

Coots is the fourth mining-related death in Kentucky in 2011.

The mine remains closed as the investigation continues.

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