First mining fatality of 2016 reported

A Wyoming County man was killed early Monday morning when he became entangled in a conveyor belt roller at an underground coal mine, in what appears to be the first mining industry fatality of the new year, state and federal officials said.

The state Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training identified the man as 53-year-old Peter Dale Sprouse of Clear Fork and said the incident occurred at the Lower War Eagle Mine, an underground operation of Greenbrier Minerals, listed as being located at Cyclone, which is northwest of Oceana in Wyoming County. The corporate controller of the mine is Coronado Coal LLC, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Gary Groves, vice president for human resources at Coronado Coal, said that the worker’s body was discovered at about 1 a.m. Monday. Groves declined to provide further details of the incident, except to say that it occurred during the mine’s third shift, which is a maintenance shift.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” Groves said.

MSHA said that Sprouse was found “entangled” in a conveyor belt drive hold-down roller.

Last year, West Virginia recorded two coal-mining fatalities, both in March: A worker died when a roof and side wall, or rib, collapsed at Murray Energy’s Marshall County Mine near Cameron, and a driver was killed when his truck overturned as it descended down a haul road at an Alpha Natural Resources surface mine in Raleigh County.

In 2015, the U.S. recorded 11 coal-mining fatalities. Both state and national figures were all-time lows for the industry, according to MSHA.

Reach Ken Ward Jr. at, 304-348-1702 or follow @kenwardjr on Twitter.


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