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Father and son miners plead in fatal mining accident case

Published October 05. 2009 02:55PM

A father and son who operated an underground coal mine in the western part of Schuylkill County where an explosion occurred in 2006 killing a miner, entered into a negotiated plea with the state Attorney General's office. On Thursdsay Judge Jacqueline Russell accepted their pleas in the Schuylkill County court to criminal charges but deferred their sentence to a later date.

Steven D. Zimmernan, 75, and David Paul Zimmerman, 53, both of Mollystown Road, Pine Grove, both entered pleas of nolo contendere (I do not contest) to a charge of involuntary manslaughter and pleaded guilty to charges of recklessly endangering another person and three counts of the Anthracite Coal Mine Act violations.

The negotiated plea for David Paul Zimmerman was to be placed in the Intermediate Punishment Program (IPP) for 23 months with the first six months to be served under house arrest with electronic monitoring. The negotiated plea for Steven D. Zimmerman was he serve three to 23 months in the county prison with immediate work release. Both men were directed to immediately contact the probation office to see if they qualify for the programs to be placed and will appear in court at a date to be set for sentencing.

All other charges filed against them are to be dismissed under the terms of the agreement which include, causing or risking a catastrophe, unlawful to employ non-certified miners, certified miners only permitted to blast coal or rock and failure to examine for gas before and after firing a blast.

The explosion occurred at the R&D Coal Company Buck Mountain Mine, Tremont Township, on Oct. 23, 2006, which caused the death of Dale Reightler, Tremont Township.

Both men remain free on bail pending the sentencing.

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