The miner, identified for ILN by a Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy spokesperson as 44-year-old Joe Saunders of Princeton, was working at the Buchanan underground operation in Mavisdale, Buchanan County, on January 11 when he was struck in the head and forehead by a damaged firefighting valve under pressure that he was attempting to remove.
“The doctors attending the injured miner removed him from life support yesterday at 4.12pm [local time] after brain activity ceased,” US Mine Safety and Health Administration spokesperson Amy Louviere told ILN.
“He was unable to breathe on his own and died shortly thereafter.”
A second miner who was hit in the shoulder by the valve after it hit the deceased was treated and released.
“The valve had been isolated by shutting off cut-off valves both inby and outby the damaged valve,” MSHA said in its preliminary report provided to ILN just after the incident.
“It is believed one of the valves was allowing water to leak through, which caused pressure to build up at the damaged valve.”
Both state and federal officials have confirmed that their respective investigations have commenced and were continuing Thursday.
DMME spokesperson Mike Abbott told ILN Thursday afternoon that more details may be forthcoming on the incident’s cause and timeline, and the agency is currently in contact with Consol Energy officials.
Consol did not release a public statement on the fatality prior to press time.