Two dead after Saturday roof fall

A ROOF collapse at a West Virginia coal mine on Saturday morning has killed two miners, Cucumber mine owner Brooks Run Mining Company said.

Staff Reporter

James D Thomas, 48, had worked at the Cucumber mine as a roof bolter since July 2006 and Pete Poindexter, 33, had worked at the mine as a utility man since May 2006.

The company, a division of Alpha Natural Resources, said that at about 10.45am on January 13, the two miners on the day shift were engaged in retreat mining, removing coal as they backed out of a developed panel about one and a half miles inside the entrance of its Cucumber mine.

“Preliminary indications are that a localised section of the mine roof unexpectedly collapsed and fell on the miners. Both men were fatally injured in the fall,” the company said.

“At the time of the accident there were 36 employees working at the mine. All personnel were evacuated from the mine and no other injuries were suffered from the localised roof collapse.”

Brooks Run officials contacted the Mine Health and Safety Administration immediately after the accident and an investigation has commenced involving MSHA, company officials and representatives of the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training.

“We're extremely saddened by this tragic accident," Brooks Run president Randy McMillion said.

“Right now our full attention is directed toward attending to the miners' families and their co-workers, as well as providing our full cooperation to the ongoing investigation."

The Cucumber mine began operating in January 2006 and produced approximately 380,000 tons of coal last year. The mine employs 114 people.

Cucumber is about 90 miles west of Roanoke, Virginia.