IL worker dies at mine under construction

A WORKER at a new Illinois mine was killed Wednesday night after falling more than 30 feet down a shaft under construction.

Donna Schmidt

According to US Mine Safety and Health Administration spokesperson Amy Louviere, the contract employee for Cowin Company – identified by local media as 38-year-old Robert Comer III – was working on a raised work deck in the shaft at the Sugar Creek M-Class Mining MC No. 1 operation.

The mine is currently in development and not yet in production.

The incident occurred at about 9.44pm local time, and the Benton Evening News reported that Comer was dead on arrival at a medical center at 10.48pm.

“Mr Comer and other employees were in the process of rigging out from a concrete pour and were getting ready to move the work deck, in which [he] and other employees removed a metal grate from the decking to allow the concrete pouring tube to be removed up the shaft,” county coroner Marty Leffler told the paper.

“[He] had apparently unharnessed and turned around and fell 39 feet down the shaft.”

Louviere said a 103(j) order, typically issued after serious accidents involving fatalities, was issued by MSHA and remained in effect Thursday afternoon. The incident is being investigated.

MC No. 1, controlled by the Cline Group, has 43 employees, primarily surface and office workers. MSHA lists the development begin date for the Franklin County complex as March 26, 2008.

Comer is the 12th person to have died in the US coal industry this year.

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