CLAIRFIELD, Tenn. (WVLT/AP) -- A Claiborne County miner has been killed by falling rocks inside a Kopper Glo Fuel coal mine in the Clairfield community.
Jeremy Perkins, 32, was pronounced dead at the scene. His body has been taken to UT Medical Center for an autopsy.
County Emergency Management Agency spokeswoman Ashley Hurley said the accident happened between 4:30 a.m and 6:00 a.m. on Wednesday. No other miners were injured or trapped.
Federal mine safety investigators and state officials with the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration were on the scene by mid-morning.
Claiborne County detective Bobby Morelock is handling the case.
"Kopper Glo Mining in my past experience is... I've never had an incident that I've investigated through the last 17 years. Their standards are pretty high there," said Morelock.
According to Kopper Glo Fuel's website, the company operates two surface mines and one deep mine in the Clairfield community, about 75 miles north of Knoxville.
Hurley did not know which mine the victim had been working at when he was killed.
Tennessee Mining Association President Chuck Laine said the accident occurred in the company's deep mine in the Clairfield community, about 75 miles north of Knoxville.
Laine said this is the first time the company has had a fatality.
The coal miner's death has sent shockwaves through the area, especially the small town of Clairfield, a town built on coal.
"Sort of knocked me down, and my wife too," said Glen Huddleston, who lives near the mine.
Clairfield is a town with one school, a community market, churches, and coal mining.
"The coal mining, for people over here, that's about all they know," said Ervin Buchanan, an ambulance driver in town.
Margaret Kepler helps run Kinfolk Market near the entrance to the Kopper Glo Mine. Miners from all over come by to refuel or to just chat.
"If it wasn't for the coal miners, we wouldn't stay open. We'd have to close up and leave if it wasn't for them," said Kepler.
That's why when one dies on the job, it hurts everyone.
"Everybody was pretty torn up about it. It's hurt all of us," said Kepler.
"It just devastates you, it does. There's something about coal miners that sticks with me because my family, my wife's family, that's what people in this country did for years and years. That's all they ever did," said Huddleston.
But days like this are harsh reminders of the risk miners take everyday they go underground.