PHILIPPI ,W.Va. — A Randolph County man has become West Virginia’s first mining fatality of 2018.

Leonard Griffith, 52, of Valley Bend, died in an accident Tuesday morning at the Sentinel Mine in Barbour County, according to the state Office of Miners’ Health, Safety, and Training.

According to investigators, Griffith was the mine’s electrician and was working on a continuous mining machine around 3:55 a.m. He was crushed when the mine’s rib rolled on him without warning.

The mine is operated by Wolf Run Mining. An investigation is under involving state and federal investigators.

Gov. Jim and First Lady Cathy Justice issued the following statement after learning of the death:

“News this morning that West Virginia has lost a member of our coal mining community is heartbreaking. Please join us as we pray for the family, friends and co-workers of Leonard W. Griffith.”

U.S. Senator Joe Manchin also released a statement Tuesday afternoon:

“Our coal miners and their families make unthinkable sacrifices to keep our state and nation strong. As West Virginians, we honor that hard work every day, and we come together in prayerful resolve when we lose one of our own. Gayle and I were deeply saddened to hear of the tragic passing of Leonard W. Griffith in Barbour County. Today, as we mourn the loss of Mr. Griffith, we come together to lift up his family, friends, coworkers and loved ones in prayer. We join all West Virginians in holding the Griffith family in our thoughts and hearts during this difficult time.”

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