The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest News

February 9, 2013

Worker crushed to death at Raleigh County mine

CHARLESTON — West Virginia regulators on Friday identified a coal miner who was killed in Raleigh County.

Edward L. Finney, 43, of Bluefield, Va., died of injuries from an accident Thursday night at Pocahontas Coal Co.’s Affinity Mine, Department of Commerce spokeswoman Leslie Fitzwater said.

The federal Mine Safety and Health Administration said the miner was pushing a scoop bucket insert full of trash onto a hoist when the hoist moved unexpectedly. The preliminary investigation suggests the hoist picked up the scoop and trapped the victim underneath.

In March 2012, MSHA listed the Affinity mine among three that had been caught giving illegal, advance warning that inspectors were onsite the month before.

MSHA chief Joe Main has repeatedly said that such warnings let workers hide conditions that could endanger their lives and the lives of others. Main has pushed for higher penalties and fines to deter the practice, but Congress has yet to act.

This is the second equipment-related death in West Virginia this week.

On Wednesday, 34-year-old Brandon Townsend of Delbarton died when a hydraulic jack exploded on a belt press at Midland Trail Energy’s Blue Creek preparation plant. Another worker was injured.

Midland Trail is owned by Patriot Coal.

Investigations into both accidents are under way.

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