Fatality investigation ongoing

MINE safety investigators have continued their investigation into the Buck Mountain mine fatality in Schuylkill County, where miner Dale R Reightler, 43, was killed Monday.

Staff Reporter

Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection mine inspectors and members of the Tremont-based state mine rescue team entered the mine and recovered the victim Monday afternoon, but were unable to begin the investigation until repairs were made to the mine’s ventilation system, which was damaged in the accident.

Six other miners inside the R&D Coal Company mine at the time of the accident escaped uninjured and contacted emergency responders around 10.30am Monday, October 23.

The accident reportedly involved explosives used in the coal mining process, but the cause still has not been determined.

On Tuesday morning, an eight-member team of investigators from DEP, the US Mine Safety and Health Administration, and the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms entered the mine and began working to ventilate the mine and make repairs to mine timbers and roof supports.

By the end of the day, the team had established ventilation and safe working conditions to the base of the No. 19 chute where the accident happened.

On Wednesday, investigators advanced into the No.19 chute to establish ventilation there, and secure the roof in that area.

The investigative team thoroughly maps and examines the area as it conducts a methodical advance into the accident scene to accurately record mine conditions, the DEP said.

Investigators will gather evidence and information and take photographs at the accident site, and interview the miners who were in the mine at the time of the accident.

The underground phase of the investigation could last up to at least a week, and no definitive results are expected for the next few weeks.

The mine will not be allowed to reopen until the investigation is completed and mine regulators are certain that the mining operation can proceed safely.