Regulators are investigating the death of a veteran miner at a Patriot Coal subsidiary in southern West Virginia, the state’s fifth mining-related fatality so far this year.
Asa Fitzpatrick, 63, of Kermit died at Newtown Energy’s Peerless Rachel Mine in Boone County, the state Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training said Thursday. Rock fell on Fitzpatrick as he prepared to install a roof bolt Wednesday evening, spokeswoman Leslie Fitzwater said.
Fitzpatrick had 40 years of coal mining experience.
His death is the seventh coal mining fatality nationwide this year, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, and the first in West Virginia since Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin urged a statewide time-out for safety talks last month.
Fitzpatrick died at the same mine that state mine safety director Eugene White visited on Feb. 20, the day the so-called “stand down” began.
White told The Associated Press he visited the Peerless mine because it was on his way home and met with both the day shift, which was brought out early, and the evening shift, before they went underground.
“It hurts,” he said Thursday. “It’s frustrating.”
White said he met with workers in the bath house and talked about the importance of being vigilant to hazards.
“It was very well-received. They participated. They listened. They didn’t joke and laugh and talk,” he said. “It was pretty humbling that day.”
Despite his frustration, White said he remains “100 percent supportive” of the stand-down.
“We’ve got to communicate to these coal miners. There’s a lot of regulations and rules there to protect them,” he said, “but we’ve got to keep talking to them.”
White said he went underground to see the accident site for himself Wednesday night.
St. Louis-based Patriot issued a statement expressing sympathy to Fitzpatrick’s family and friends. Executive Vice President for Operations Michael May said Patriot is cooperating with the state and federal investigations. Friday, officials will do a re-enactment of the accident as part of the investigation.
The mine near Comfort employs about 130 workers.
- Local News
RX monitoring system on display in Bluefield
Area law enforcement officers were trained Tuesday in pseudoephedrine tracking as part of the National Precursor Log Exchange (NPLEx) program.
Investigation under way into accidental death
The Fayette County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an accidental death in the Maplewood area, according to a press release from the office.
- Obituaries — Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Council approves budget revisions
Beckley Common Council unanimously approved final budget revisions Tuesday night for the 2014 fiscal year.
Remodeled McDonald’s in Beaver now operational with new design
The rebuilt McDonald’s at 200 Airport Road in Beaver reopened at midnight Wednesday.
One dead, one injured in single vehicle crash
A car crash near Nicholas County left one dead and another injured, according to dispatchers Tuesday.
American Red Cross facing ‘looming shortage’ of blood
Summer days often give way to vacations or gardening, camping or hiking, or other fair weather activities, but one thing people should not forget in the summertime is the need for blood donations.
Woman in critical condition after motorcycle accident
A motorcycle accident on Bolt Road in Raleigh County left a woman in critical condition Tuesday, according to a press release from the West Virginia State Police.
Free day at Clay Center
Enjoy an afternoon of free family entertainment with the Clay Center and West Virginia Symphony Orchestra (WVSO) at Summer Fun Day Sunday from noon to 5 p.m.
W.Va. health officials find clinic reused its needles
Health officials on Monday advised patients of a West Virginia pain management clinic to be tested for blood-borne infectious diseases after an investigation found that needles had been reused.
- More Local News Headlines
- RX monitoring system on display in Bluefield