West Virginia coal miner 12th to be killed in mine accident this year
CHARLESTON, WV — Johnny Mack Bryant II, 35, of Lenore, West Virginia, was crushed to death when a continuous mining machine pinned him against a mine wall. The incident occurred at about 4:15 a.m. on Friday at Coal River Mining LLC’s Fork Creek No. 10 Mine, near the intersection of the Boone, Kanawha and Lincoln county lines.
The coal mining accident happened on the day the UBB Memorial had its dedication ceremony in Whitesville, WV. The memorial was constructed to remember The Upper Big Branch Mine disaster that occurred on April 5, 2010, killing 29 miners. West Virginia Governor Tomblin paid respect to Bryant and his family with a moment of silence at the dedication ceremony.
Bryant was part of a crew that was setting up the continuous mining machine for the upcoming day shift when the accident occurred, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration. A MSHA spokesperson said that Bryant “received fatal crushing injuries when he was reportedly caught between the conveyor boom of the continuous mining machine and the mine wall.”
For the past two years, the Fork Creek No. 10 mine reported more coal mining accidents than the national average for similar types of mines, according to MSHA. Coal River Mining also has a history of citations, including being by MSHA following fatal accidents at other mining operations in 2001 and 2005. Coal River Mining LLC’s Fork Creek No. 10 is a relatively small underground mine that is controlled by James O. Bunn and Franklin D. Robertson, according to MSHA records.
At least 33 miners have been killed in the US since 1984 in crushing or pinning accidents that involved the use of remote control continuous mining machines. Many if not all of these deaths could have been prevented by a proximity detection device. In fact, MSHA chief Joe Main proposed a rule to begin requiring mine operators to install “proximity detection” devices that would shut off mining machines when they get too close to workers.
Despite the fact that the proposal would have net benefits of $2.5 million per year and would save lives, West Virginia coal industry lobbyists have complained that MSHA is moving too quickly to require the devices. Apparently the West Virginia coal mining industry has been successful at stalling this life saving rule since a final version of the rule has been awaiting approval from the White House Office of Management and Budget for months.
West Virginia work injury and wrongful death lawyer, West Law Offices, dedicates this article to Mr. Bryant and to raising people’s awareness about the proximity detection device that, if used by Coal River Mining, LLC, would have likely prevented Mr. Bryant’s death.
Brooks West is a West Virginia personal injury lawyer who helps people who have been injured by negligence or wrongful conduct. He is the President and founder of West Law Firm and has been an attorney since 2005. Brooks is a Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum member and has been awarded the AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale-Hubbell.