EXCLUSIVE: Sterling Materials' safety record is questioned after mining accident

VERONA, KY (FOX19) - A FOX19 EXCLUSIVE investigation has uncovered three separate lawsuits which depict a different story regarding the Sterling Mine in Verona. Tuesday Angela Common, 37, of Carrollton was killed when mine officials say a truck she was driving turned over on her. The mother of four was driving a large mining vehicle some three-quarters of a mile deep in the mine when the accident occurred.

Afterwards law enforcement officials said they did not have any information about any previous accidents. However, FOX19 found three pending lawsuits which involve five people. Two of them are for wrongful death. One states that Melvin Jones was working in the mine in 2009 when he was killed when he fell 16 feet off of a conveyor belt and broke his neck and back. He was a quadriplegic for approximately one year before ultimately dying. The wrongful death suit states that three people, Dallas Wallace and Tammy and Dillion Roberts were killed when a vehicle they were driving lost control on the highway which leads in and out of the mine due to hazardous conditions from trucks carrying materials which were dispersed on the road. Numerous people told FOX19 the road is often very slippery from the materials and is 'like a skating rink' when the condition exists.

Hershel Moore was the only one of the five plaintiffs in the three lawsuits who has survived but he is permanently crippled. He was injured in September 2008, when he was driving a fuel truck in the mine and a front end loader's brakes failed and rolled backwards, down a hill and crashed into his truck. Moore was crushed from the stomach down. Although not paralyzed, he has had 15 operations since the incident and is scheduled for the 16th one later this month. "It crushed the whole truck in on me. I was crushed from the waist down," he said. "All of a sudden the brake system on it just failed and it just took off rolling. I was probably 200 foot down below it. After it all stopped and I looked, the back bumper of the loader was within a foot of my face sitting right there on top of the cab of my truck. The truck had caved in. It shoved everything in around my lower body."

Wednesday evening he got out of bed for the first time that day. "Sometimes I go two or three days without getting out of bed just to go to the bathroom and get cleaned up a little bit and then back in the bed," he said. He says he doesn't cry but one wonders how that is possible, "I had 11 broken bones from the waist down. I've got an eight inch bolt going through holding both hips together."

"I've got a bar from my knee to my ankle. I've got a catheter in right now and I go in the 29th for my 16th surgery," he said.

When asked what keeps him going he simply said, "My family. I mean I've got my wife and my daughter to think about".

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