EKY high school student writes book to raise awareness of mining disaster

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HARLAN COUNTY, Ky. (WYMT) — We all have certain passions or interests that set us apart from each other and for one high school student from Eastern Kentucky, his interests have grown in ways he’s never seen to come.

Letcher County Central High School student Micah Turner has a strong connection to coal mining as his grandfathers and father were miners.

“He worked in the coal mines until he joined the mine rescue team and he responded to the Upper Big Branch mine disaster a few years ago and so I guess that’s just the disaster aspect of mine that really influenced me,” Turner said.

Turner, who is also a photographer, became interested in the Scotia Mine disaster in 1976.

“You look at all these other mining disasters like Upper Big Branch, Kentucky Darby, there’s one in Leslie County, they have all these big fancy monuments and statues,” he said. “And you look at Scotia and it’s nothing but a sign on the side of the road. My goal is to change that.

This turner motivated to write a book titled, At the bottom of the mine, a historical fiction that follows several characters who work in the Scotia mines and experience the disaster that unfolded in March 1976.

“It’s a very delicate subject because of the pain that comes with it and the most important thing I can emphasize with the book is to bring dedication and respect to these miners, because it’s 26 lives who were just trying to earn a living for their families,” he said.

Turner said he hopes to create a dialogue about this disaster for many generations to come.

“The purpose of everything I write and every photo I take is to leave something for someone else that might inspire them to do the same,” he added.

Turner also said he hopes a larger monument will be dedicated to the Scotia Mine site before the 50th anniversary of the disaster, which will be in 2026.

Turner added that a few more books are in the works.

Turner’s book, At the bottom of the mine, will be available for purchase on Friday, April 15.

The book can be purchased from Amazon.com or various local businesses in Letcher and Harlan counties.

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