3 men freed after being trapped in Ky. mine

Three mine maintenance workers were freed and appeared to be in good health Monday after being trapped for 14 hours in a flooded southeastern Kentucky mine, a state spokesman said.

Dick Brown, spokesman for the state energy and environment cabinet, said the men were freed Monday at 8:22 p.m. EDT.

“All three miners are out. They’re fine. Everybody is safe. No injuries,” said C.K. Lane, chief operating officer with James River Coal, the Richmond, Va.-based company that owns the mine near Middlesboro. “We pumped the water down, and they were able to walk through the water and walk on outside.”

Elaine Smith community and patient advocate at Middlesboro Appalachian Regional Healthcare Hospital said the three men were evaluated and released.

The three, identified as Pernell Witherspoon, Doug Warren and Russell Asher, had been on dry ground about 600 feet from the mine entrance since getting caught in the mine at 6:40 a.m., when officials said a collapse at the entrance sent water from a swollen drainage ditch gushing in.

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