October 10, 2008

Apprentice Killed at Massey Mine in Boone County

By Ken Ward Jr.

A Massey Energy contract employee who died Wednesday night in a Boone County mine was the seventh West Virginia coal miner to die on the job this year, state and federal officials said.

Steven Cain, 32, of Comfort, was crushed between a railcar and a mine wall at Massey subsidiary Independence Coal's Justice No. 1 Mine near Prenter, said Jama Jarrett, spokeswoman for the state Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training.

Cain had a wife and two young children, Jarrett said.

The accident occurred sometime between 11 p.m. and midnight, according to separate reports from the state and the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Cain was employed by a contract firm called Mountaineer Labor Solutions, the MSHA report said. Jarrett said Cain was an apprentice miner with four months' experience.

The Justice No. 1 Mine recorded an accident rate better than the national average in each of the last five years, according to MSHA records. But in January 2002, 44-year-old miner Danny Adkins was killed in a roof fall at the operation. Massey paid $3,200 in fines after being cited by MSHA for two roof control violations, records show.

Cain's death was the second death in three weeks of a contractor at a Massey Energy operation in West Virginia, according to state officials.

On Sept. 19, 61-year-old James Wood was operating a bulldozer at Massey subsidiary Alex Energy's No. 1 Mine, a surface mine in Nicholas County, when the dozer rolled over a hill.

Wood died on Sunday, Jarrett said. Wood worked for AJM Corp., which was doing business as Battle Creek, state officials said.

Ten days after Wood's accident, two other miners were injured - one of them seriously - in another accident at the same Alex Energy operation, state officials have said.

Nationwide, 22 coal miners have died on the job so far in 2008, according to MSHA.

Reach Ken Ward Jr. at [email protected] or 348-1702.

Originally published by Staff writer.

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