Miner's body recovered from WV impoundment

FOR 15 days, Consol Energy bulldozer operator Markel Koon lay dead at the bottom of a Nolan’s Run coal mine pond, trapped when his machine sank to the murky depths following an embankment collapse.
Miner's body recovered from WV impoundment Miner's body recovered from WV impoundment Miner's body recovered from WV impoundment Miner's body recovered from WV impoundment Miner's body recovered from WV impoundment

At Consol Energy's Robinson Run face.

Donna Schmidt

Company spokeswoman Lynn Seay said rescue teams finally retrieved the body of Koon, 58, and brought him to the surface of the impoundment the Robinson Run preparation plant site about 4.40pm Friday following a pipe dive.

Koon, of Shinnston, was a Consol employee for more than 37 years.

His body has been taken to the chief medical examiner’s office in Charleston, where an autopsy will be performed.

“Consol Energy would like to express its deep gratitude to all of the dive rescue teams, who came to West Virginia from across the country, local emergency responders, and state and federal agencies who provided their expertise and support to develop, approve, and execute such a challenging recovery effort and to help bring closure to Mr Koon’s family,” Seay said.

She also confirmed the joint investigation by its officials, the US Mine Safety and Health Administration, the West Virginia Department of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training, the United Mine Workers of America and others was ongoing.

Koon was working with a crew to enlarge the foundation and raise the height of a dam at the Nolan’s Run impoundment late last month when a section gave way, sending him and two others into the deep, murky slurry.

The two engineers involved escaped without serious injury, but Koon, trapped in the dozer, sank 20ft to the bottom in the November 30 accident. Recovery operations were delayed because of technical problems accessing and then cutting open the top of the cab.

A Sago connection?

Accepting the loss of a miner is never easy, but news of Koon’s death may be even harder to stomach upon hearing of a connection between the career miner and the January 2006 explosion at the nearby Sago mine.

The State Journal revealed on Friday that Koon was a member of a mine rescue team that attended the blast that killed 12..

The paper said a UMWA account of the investigation showed Koon was part of the Robinson Run mine rescue team, one of many crews on hand to assist after the tragedy.

Consol had 65 miners at Sago from its Bailey, Blacksville 2, Enlow Fork, Loveridge, McElroy, Robinson Run, Shoemaker and Eight-Four mines, according to union records.

Koon’s death was the 19th in US coal in 2012.

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