WHARTON, W.Va. — Two West Virginia coal miners were killed Monday night in an accident that took place at Patriot Coal’s Brody No. 1 Mine near Wharton in Boone County.

The state Mine Safety Office identified the victims Tuesday morning as Eric Legg, 48, of Twilight, and Gary Hensley, 46, of Chapmanville. They were working the evening shift when the accident occurred at around 8:47 p.m.

State mine safety officials said the accident may have been caused by a “coal outburst,” which is a sudden outburst of coal and gas.

Patriot called it a “severe coal burst as the mine was conducting retreat mining operations,” in a statement released at midday Tuesday.

“We express our deepest sympathies to Eric’s and Gary’s families, friends and co-workers,” said Mike Day, Patriot Executive Vice President – Operations. “We are fully cooperating with state and federal mine regulatory agencies to investigate this incident.”

Investigators with the state and federal government, MSHA, were on the scene Tuesday.

A coal outburst is where the side of the coal seam explodes from the geological stresses. It’s what killed the six miners and three rescuers at Crandall Canyon, Utah, in 2007.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin released a statement Tuesday:

“Joanne and I extend our heartfelt condolences to the families and friends of the two miners–Eric and Gary–who lost their lives in this tragic mining accident. We ask all West Virginians to continue praying for them during this very difficult time for our mining community.”

The Brody mine has a case in front of the federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission after it was placed on MSHA’S Pattern of Violations list. Patriot Coal is disputing the designation. Oral arguments are scheduled for later this month.

Brody is part of Patriot’s Wells Mining Complex where the company announced layoffs less than a month ago.

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  • Marco

    As a native West Virginian, this just proves that the mining industry needs far less regulation...get the gov. out of the mines!!!! If I am not pouring the sarcasm on thick enough, please let me know!

    • rich

      yea but still happened! you can issue a thousand more regulations its still going to happen no sarcasm

  • Eric

    This is one of the mines Patriot issued a WARN notice on last month.

  • Molly

    Last March Patriot took back Brody Mine from a good man, Clayton Cline. They dismissed 8 of Brody's upper management saying they were going in a different direction with the mine. Things didn't appear to get better, they we're put on a PV list after they let the management people go that knew about the mine from day one when it was opened. My husband was one of the upper management people they let go. Seems Patriot's choices weren't always the smart ones made. I am truly sorry for the families of the miners that lost their lives last night. You are in our thoughts and prayers.

    • Ron - from Morgantown

      We need to hold elected officials responsible for the lax enforcement of mine safety laws - both federally and state . Hope the lawyers hit Patriot with a high hard one and recover millions for the loss of life . It was avoidable if only Patriot cared more about people instead of profits . Friends of Coal ? What a joke . Southern West Va has suffered for a century because of big coal .

    • Dave

      First of all my condolences to the families of employees who were killed in Brody Mine. Such a sad situation that time will tell if it should have been prevented.

      In reply to Molly's comments, Patriot's choices aren't based on smart. They are based on how to save a buck and give bigger bonuses to a few. Ben Hatfield is former Massey. It's like having Blankenship with a new face.

  • Preston

    I worked several years ago in a mine safety related business and know it takes a special type of person to be a coal miner.
    May God bless Mr. Eric Legg and Mr. Gary Hensley and their family and friends during this time of suffering. Rejoice in their lives and have comfort in God.

  • James Orlick

    My prayers go out to these two young men who lost their lives and let us remember their families who pay the ultimate price. I hope that conditions and opportunities would have allowed the miners with better working conditions. Bless them.

  • 1olewvufan

    As a former underground coal miner and safety inspector (Fireboss), my heart goes out to these men and their families.

    Most people don't really know what all coal is used for. Coal is not only used to produce electricity, but is and has been used to produce things like coke, synthetic materials, and medicines. If you drive through Thorpe, WV you can still see the some of the ole coke overs.

    Mine Safety has improved over the year, but as far as I know they still carry a "MSA Self Rescuer" on their belts in case of a fire, which is not an hours worth of oxygen. What a MSA Self Rescuer does is remove carbon monoxide from the air, and the harder a miner breathes the more these things heat up. They can get hot enough to burn a miner's mouth and lips.

    I've heard talk about miner's carrying an hour's worth of oxygen on them. However, as far as I know this hasn't happened.

    Bad mining practices can put a section on a ride or squeeze, and these things can make mining more dangerous. The most dangerous mining part of mining is retreat mining.

    When I read stories like today, I would like to know if the section that the accident occurred on was driving-up or retreating.

    Twice I've seen the roof fall in from the outside, and you could stand near the fall area and see the sky. Once we had a tree to drop through the roof from the outside.

    My condolences go out the families and friends of these men!!!

  • so sad....

    God bless these young men and their families. Another tragic coal incident in the great mountain state. it is also sad that this story appeared first on national news last evening, and not a single local media outlet, including Metronews, picked up on this story until this morning. R I P good miners.

  • Megan

    Prayers may God comfort each and everyone of the families and friends and heal those hearts that have been broken

  • scott

    I feel so sorry the the families of the miners that was lost at brody last night.I worked ther for 5years and know all most all of them they are like my familie. I will be praying for evey one.

  • Brody coal miner's wife

    My heart goes out to the families of the lost miners! Y'all are in my prayers, my God be with you all through this sorrowful time!

  • wvu999

    There is a war on coal.......miners. We all know miner operators and owners are all still millionaires. Keep listening to friends of coal OPERATORS and believing their garbage while the men and women working in the mines lose their lives and health.
    Maybe WV will be smart enough to wake up one day and see this.

    • 1olewvufan

      As a former Fireboss in WV at a union operation I can assure you nmining rules and regulations work when enforced, and even when enforced things can and will happen. The other thing is miners can change bad regulations. In 1982, I submitted nearly 400 changes to the Federal Mining Rules and Regulation and when the new regulations came out in 1983, 95% of my recommendations had been implemented into law. Thus, change is possible.

      Miners themselves break and ignore rules, thus it isn't always the company's fault.

      Mining will never be 100% because events due to nature, the rock strata above, and if a seam is being mined over another seam the same applies to the bottom. Miners may be mining near a mine they didn't know existed, for there are no state or federal records the mine ever existed.

      I've seen the roof fall in to the outside twice, and one night a tree even came through and none of this had to do with bad mining practices or a violation of safety procedures.

      If you want stupid; stupid was when the doctor who had no mining experience or mine safety training was allowed to take a man bus and go inside a mine. This was unsafe and his arrogance could have cost others their lives. Sadly, miners do have to occasionally take risk.

      Be safe my brothers!

    • coal miners daughter

      I am from Boone County. What you fail to see is mining is not just a way of life but it runs deep in the blood of those surrounded by coal. We all know it is not safe to work in mines no matter what anyone tells us. Miners and Miner's families know this all to well. These two men paid the ultimate price may God Bless them and their families.

    • Rod

      Amen Brother, Amen.

    • Friend of Coal


      Perhaps you could show a little respect and compassion for these hard working people at this, their time of loss.

      NOW is not the time for an angry rant.

      To the families of those miners who were lost, may God be with you and comfort you threw your sorrow.

      • John

        One can be respectful and angry at the same time. My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the miners who lost their lives. I agree with WVU999 in that how many times will the families of miners have to grieve over loved ones before someone, anyone, does something to make these mines as safe as possible. While regulations and regulators will not stop every possible accident, we can assuredly say not enough is being done to protect those who put their lives at risk every day.

      • Sarah


        When it hits you in the face like this - it is exactly the time to make sure coal owners know we are angry at the conditions they put our miners in! We respect our miners, we do not respect the owners that care more about profit than safety.

        This was a NON-UNION mine. Are you shocked? I'm not.

        • Shadow

          It is difficult for me to believe that any CEO is so detached from his personnel and company that he would risk them by not applying reasonable Safety Standards whether it be Union or Non-union? Accidents are not good for the bottom line nor for your conscience if you think you contributed to the death of a miner. I worked for many years in several occupations where I believed that an error an my part could result in death and I can tell you, it is with you everyday.

        • longwallsock

          I have worked at both non union and union mine's and still currently go underground every day to make a living for my family. It angers me to see people blast non union mine's we are all aware of the dangers. So if it was federal state or company that is to relax on the safety practices we will no soon enough. If you are union or non union we are all brothers in the dark. Prayers to those families who are now having to say goodbye to early to there loved. To the miners who lost two brothers honor there memory with the good times shared. Be safe out there every one and may God bless guide guard and protect you back to your loved ones waiting for you to return home.

    • local 1501 brother

      Maybe one day you'll wake up and realize that we mine coal for our family's just like our fathers and grandfathers have done for generations. Without people like us and coal your house would be awful dark!!! God bless those men and my heart goes out to their families.

      • Wvhuntnfish

        Nope... I paid $12k for my solar panel install. System paid for itself this past March. You better adapt or you're going to go the way of the dinosaurs...

        • Shadow

          Where do you get your power when the Sun doesn't shine? Have you disconnect from the Grid and use batteries or do you use coal generated electricity?

        • Coal Miner

          I hope your solar panels work 0n the dark, cloudy days....we mine coal to keep AMERICA strong. These men were doing a honest job, not only feeding their family's, but those on a check. Its a dangerous job...we know that...know the facts before you and all those others run your mouths about things you have no clue about. GOD BLESS COAL MINERS AND GOD BLESS AMERICA!!!!!

  • Quinby

    My Heart goes out to this families.

  • Rachel

    Lifting Our small Community up in Prayers. Praying for comfort for all involved. Hard working individuals. Dear Lord Please Put Your Arms arms around each & everyone as they stand together waiting. Places ur hands on the miners as they're rescue is coming. Guide the rescue crews & be with them as they work to reach family & friends. Comfort them as only they prepare for the unknown & everyone pulls together PRAYING & WAITING

  • Sarah

    It just makes me so angry. I'm so sad for the families and it is RIDICULOUS we still lose miners!!!!

    • Dale

      You can thank WV Coal association which keeps promoting big coal thats no longer here to keep Bill Raney and Chris Hamilton employed. You can thank MSHA and DEP fines that are not nearly high enough. Its cheaper to do mediocre work and pay the fine than do it right the first time.
      You can thank our State government for giving away the state to get coal companies into WV, and not holding them accountable for economic recovery they DONT repay when they up and close the mines early and haul A$$.
      And you got the ruthless Don Blankenships and his wanna be's that only care about profit.

      Coal companies got it made. Mind you I said companies, meaning upper brass, not employees.

  • Robin

    Heart goes out to the families.