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Jenkins miner, 49, was father, sports fan

Funeral services were held Saturday for a Jenkins man killed in a surface mining accident in Virginia.

Services for Richard Neal “Rick” Yonts II, 49, were held Dec. 10 at Polly and Craft Funeral Home in Jenkins. Burial followed in the Baker cemetery at Payne Gap.

According to Virginia Department of Mine, Minerals and Energy spokesman Mike Abbott, Yonts was operating an excavator near a highwall at Fairbanks Coal Company Number 4 Surface Mine in Stonega, Va., around 7:33 a.m. on Dec. 7 when part of the highwall collapsed on the machine, trapping Yonts inside. He was removed from the excavator at 11:30 a.m. and taken by ambulance to Lonesome Pine Hospital in Big Stone Gap, Va., where he was pronounced dead.

Abbott said investigators are trying to determine whether Yonts was scaling loose rock off of the highwall.

The Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration and Virginia Department of Mine, Minerals and Energy conducted the investigation.

Yonts was graduated from Jenkins High School and attended the University of Kentucky. He was athletic and played several sports, but his favorite was football.

He was preceded in death by his maternal grandparents, Millard and Carol Preston, and his paternal grandparents, Warren and Pauline Yonts, and an infant brother, Gregory Yonts.

The son of Richard Neal Yonts of McRoberts and Shanna Yonts of Jenkins, he is survived by a son, Craig Yonts of Jenkins; a daughter, Amanda Yonts of Jenkins; two grandchildren, Caiden Yonts and Gavin Collins, both of Jenkins; and a friend, Patty Sandlin, of Hazard.

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