State officials are investigating a fatal accident at an underground coal mine in southern West Virginia.
The fatality involving a belt roller occurred early Monday at Greenbrier Minerals LLC’s Lower War Eagle Mine near Cyclone in Wyoming County, said West Virginia Department of Commerce spokeswoman Leslie Smithson.
Smithson identified the miner as belt man and fire boss Peter Dale Sprouse of Clear Fork.
Greenbrier Minerals vice president of human resources Gary Groves said the 53-year-old Sprouse was working on a mine belt and was found about 1 a.m. Monday.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with his family,” Groves said.
The mine’s owner is Wilton, Connecticut-based Coronado Coal LLC. The company’s website says it was formed in August 2011 and it acquired Greenbrier Minerals a year ago from Cliffs Natural Resources. A telephone call to the company Monday was not immediately returned.
It was West Virginia’s first reported coal mine fatality this year. The state had two mining fatalities in 2015, both in March: A worker died when a roof and side wall, or rib, collapsed at Murray Energy’s Marshall County Mine near Cameron, and a driver was killed when his truck overturned as it descended down a haul road at an Alpha Natural Resources surface mine in Raleigh County.
The 11 deaths in coal mines nationwide in 2015 eclipsed the record low of 16 set in 2014.
Online MSHA records show 13 injuries occurred at the Lower War Eagle Mine in 2015 and 10 occurred in 2014. Eleven citations were issued to the mine last month, including alleged violations of roof, face and rib-support protection standards, and problems with electrical equipment, wire and cable insulation, and firefighting equipment.