Alabama miner dies in pinning accident

THE 10th coal fatality in the US this year occurred Thursday afternoon at Cleveland-Cliffs' Oak Grove operation in Alabama.

Donna Schmidt

Motorman Lee Edward Graham, 64, was pinned between a locomotive and a longwall shearer body he was transporting, the US Mine Safety and Health Administration confirmed to International Longwall News on Friday.

The victim, along with three other operators and one foreman, was transporting the longwall shearer body to the section when the carrier derailed, the agency said in its preliminary report of the accident.

“The victim got out of his locomotive to assist in re-railing the car. He was between the locomotive and the carrier when the locomotive rolled or slid back, crushing him between the shearer body and locomotive," said MSHA.

The accident occurred at 1pm local time, and his death was marked five minutes later, it added.

A federal investigation into the death of the 30-year mining veteran has commenced. Reviews are also underway by the Alabama Department of Industrial Relations Mine Safety and Inspection Division, the United Mine Workers of America and the mine owner.

Cleveland-Cliffs told several local media outlets on Friday that it was saddened to lose a "valued member" of its team at Oak Grove in the tragic accident.

“We would like to express our sincere condolences to Lee's family and loved ones," said Cliffs North American Coal senior vice-president Duke Vetor, who added that mining operations have been suspended until at least Tuesday for investigation efforts.

Graham had worked at the 363-employee Oak Grove complex for 21 years, MSHA said.

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