CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A 21-year-old coal miner has died while helping to make a repair at a Marshall County coal mine.

Raymond L. Starkey, of New Martinsville, a general inside laborer, was fatally injured late Monday afternoon, according to a UMW statement. He was fatally injured while helping to repair a beltline, according to state officials.

The death occurred at the Marshall County Mine owned by Murray Energy, which confirmed the fatal accident today.

“We are saddened by the loss,” the company stated today.

The United Mine Workers released a statement expressing desire to determine how Starkey was killed and extending sympathy to his family.

Cecil Roberts

“Our safety experts are on the scene, working with the UMWA Local Union 1638 Safety Committee, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training, and the company to determine exactly what happened,” UMW President Cecil Roberts stated.

“We will not rest until we know the circumstances of Brother Starkey’s death, so that we can prevent something like this from ever happening again. I ask every mining family, indeed every American family, to lift up the Starkey family in your prayers this holiday season.”

Office of the Governor

Jim Justice

Gov. Jim Justice issued a statement of sorrow over Starkey’s death.

“Cathy and I are deeply saddened to learn that we lost a dedicated, hard-working West Virginia coal miner yesterday evening,” Justice stated.

‘We ask all West Virginians to join us in praying for Raymond’s family, his friends, and the entire coal mining community. This is especially devastating news to learn on Christmas Eve, but we know that West Virginians will come together during this tragedy and surround his family with love and support.”

Across the country, there were 22 mining-related deaths this year prior to Starkey’s, according to the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

There have been three other coal mining deaths in West Virginia this year, according to MSHA.

On March 7, a 38-year-old miner with 10 years of mining experience received fatal injuries while he was working on the pad of a highwall mining machine at White Forest Resources’ South Fork Coal Co LLC HWM 61 in Greenbrier County.

The miner, Adam P. DeBoard, was crushed between a metal support post on a highwall mining machine and
a push beam that was being removed as part of the normal mining cycle. It was a pinch point that DeBoard had not been trained to avoid.

On August 7, a 42-year-old preparation plant electrician with 15 years of mining experience was electrocuted when he contacted an energized connection of a 4,160 VAC electrical circuit at Blackhawk Mining’s South Hollow Prep Plant and Loadout n Kanawha County. 

The victim, Michael S. Davis, was in the plant’s Motor Control Center adjusting the linkage between the disconnect lever and the internal components of the 4,160 VAC panel supplying power to the plant feed belt motors.

On Sept. 17, an electrician was electrocuted when he contacted an energized conductor at  Blackhawk Mining’s American Eagle Mine in Kanawha County.

The victim, Steven Vernon Keeney, 40, contacted a 995 VAC connector while attempting to troubleshoot the scrubber motor circuit on a continuous mining machine.