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.