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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  • Miner

    A person has to be a idiot. To think no matter how many safety regulation a place has. Accidents will just happen. Worked at placed which was accident free for years on end. Have to remember this place had several problems. Corporation do not get a hoot about workers. Don B. showed that.

  • Stephanie Cooper Herdman, Esq

    As a West Virginian and a former intern at the UMWA and former advocate before MSHA, my heart truly goes out to these families. People outside of the mining industry don't often understand that working for a living in the coal industry is filled with daily risks. Unfortunately not working in the coal industry means further poverty. To all of those who put their lives on the line for their family daily, I thank you.

  • desperate

    "Pattern of Violations" list? Shut these mines down!

  • dee Goldstine

    My heart goes out to these families, such a sad and tragic loss, May God comfort them in here hours of need.

  • Meghan

    Wise up, WVians. YThrr lawmakers reside in the operator's pockets... Citations are inconsequential in the coal industry. They are written, then paid - the checks signed in your men's blood.

    Write me a speeding ticket and I'll pay it. I make good money.
    Throw me in jail for speeding? I'll slow my ass down.

  • The judge

    Jane, go find Jack and then both of you can run up the hill to fetch a pail of water to drown yourself in. How about that dumbas_ The poster was was being sincere and you are simply indicating your intellect level which is obviously very low.

  • Gary Karstens



  • Jane Bohannon

    I was raised in Wharton. My father was a coal miner and my brother is now. These are wonderful, good, hard working people and deserve to work in a safe environment. Many times it seems the fines paid are less than it would cost to fix the problems so they choose to pay the fines. Something has got to be done. My heart goes out to the families.

  • Jethro

    Where is Raney ? Or his Friends of Coal?

    Not a word about the dead Miners or improving safety, or working conditions, just shilling for peak production.
    Unfortunately Hoppy is with them.

  • Wvian

    1olewvufan- msa rescuers that you are talking about aren't used now. There are different models some do offer 1 hour of scrubbed oxygen. Some offer less. Bless our coal miners and this was a coal mine who cares union or non union not the time for campaigning

  • JCLarrabee

    These poor souls worked hard to make a living. May they rest in peace. Patriot Coal, owned by Peabody Energy, has the bucks to fight MSHA's attempts to make mines safer for miners. ALEC will make sure of that.

  • Ron - from Morgantown

    Patriot Coal has billboards all over the state asking its employees to be proud of where you work . What a joke , they treat employees like a piece of equipment , when the shovel breaks they just go get a new one . This mine was riddled with violations and was extremely dangerous to work at . Men need to put food on the table and pay the mortgage so they have no choice but to work for such a reprehensible company . My respects for the loss of those two miners who did nothing wrong but to show up for work and give an honest day of work for a company who cares less about mine safety .

  • Chris

    I worked with both of these guys. They both knew what they were doing and had years of experience. I'm going to miss both of them. They were the kind of guys that making working underground better than it actually is.

    • desperate

      my condolences to you, other friends, and the families of these men--

  • Joe Schmoe

    The issue is not more and more regulations. If coal mines would just follow the ones we have now things could improve. Also, no matter how many rules and regulations there are and even if they were followed 100% mining accidents will happen. It is a dangerous job and coal mines must do all they can to minimize the chance for a accident.

  • Mountaineer for Life

    I know nothing about coal mining. But can you actually mine coal which I consider a high risk occupation and achieve an annual zero injury or killed rate? I don't see how that is possible. Condolences to the families of these fine men. At least they were working hard and not sitting back on welfare or disability like most of WV.

    • Jane

      It seems you do not know what you are talking about so maybe you should Just keep your comments to yourself MFL.

      • Screw you Jane

        Jane, screw you and your welfare and disabled rich family. Again, these miners were working for a living as the other poster stated. They were good men working in an unsafe industry. Hats off to them!!!

        • Jane

          You totally misunderstood what I was saying. Yes, I love this area. I was raised here. I saw many accidents, strikes and men without jobs. They would never know if they were going to have a job next week. What I mean is if they are without jobs they totally deserve welfare or any assistance if needed. My father died of Black Lung and more than likely my brother has it. These are the best hard working people I know. I am not rich nor was my family.