U.S. records first coal-mining death of 2012
OAKWOOD, Va. — A Mercer County coal miner died Wednesday evening as a result of injuries he received while working at Consol’s Buchanan No. 1 Mine on Jan. 11. He was the first coal miner to be fatally injured on the job this year.
Joe Saunders, 44, of Princeton, died at Bristol Regional Medical Center in Bristol, Tenn., according to Mike Abbott, a spokesman for the Virginia Department of Mines Minerals and Energy.
Saunders and another coal miner were both injured at about 9 p.m., on Jan. 11, when a high-pressure water line valve they were working on blew off and broke into pieces. Abbott said that Saunders was struck in the head by one of the pieces. Abbott said that Saunders was initially transported to Clinch Valley Medical Center in Richlands, then transported to BRMC.
“We have an investigation on-going at the site with federal inspectors with the Mine Safety and Health Administration,” Abbott said. “In these investigations, it is typical that we close down the area where the accident occurred. It is my understanding that the mine operator — Consol — shut the mine down (Thursday) out of respect for the coal miner who died.
“The initial closure orders had been lifted, but DMME and MSHA have an order in place that restricts the company from moving equipment in the area where the high-pressure pipe was damaged until the company can present an action plan to us that will prevent the same action from happening again,” Abbott said.
MSHA posted on its web site that Saunders was the first miner to be fatally injured on the job this year.