Illinois miner dies in roof fall accident

ONE worker at an underground mine in Illinois was crushed and fatally injured Tuesday morning after unsupported roof fell on him, according to the US Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Donna Schmidt

Roof bolter operator Justin Wilkin, 25, was working at Gibson County Coal's Gibson operation at about 7.40am local time as part of roof bolting operations when a section of roof measuring 10ft wide by 5ft long and as much as 10in thick fell on top of him, according to a preliminary report.

The agency said the rock fell from an unsupported area in front of the automated temporary roof support and pinned him against its cylinder. Wilkin, who was working with a Fletcher RR-II-12 unit at the time, passed away of massive blunt injuries at 9am, according to local and federal officials.

The worker had just over two years of coal mining experience.

The Gibson County Coal operation was also where three Frontier-Kemper Constructors workers, one of them the company's founder, were killed in August 2007 when they fell from a sink bucket that tipped while the mine's portal was under construction.

The mine employs 314 workers, 253 of them underground.

Wilkin's death was the first in the state of Indiana and the 12th in the nation for the coal industry in 2008.

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