GRAFTON— At approximately 3:55 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the Harrison-Taylor 911 Dispatch Center received a heart wrenching call that two individuals employed with the Leer Mining Complex in Taylor County were trapped underground at the Arch Coal facility.
Emergency crews, including the Taylor County Medical Emergency Squad, the Taylor County Sherriff’s Department and the Grafton Fire Department immediately responded to the scene.
According to reports, as the rescue mission was underway, one of the miners was able to get himself out and to safety, nearly an hour after the call went out.
The emergency personnel continued rescue efforts for the second miner, who was extracted just before 6:00 a.m.
The Grafton Fire Department assisted in landing two helicopters from HealthNet who flew both of the employees to Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown for injuries sustained by the incident.
The Leer Mine workers were reported to have serious, but non-life-threatening injuries as a result of a pillar rib failure.
Safety inspectors were also called to the scene. Their report from the incident states that the pillar had briefly trapped the two miners and caused the injuries.
West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin released the following statement in regards to the accident, “Gayle and I are praying for a swift recovery for the miners injured in Taylor County this morning,” he said. “We send our hearts out to the miners’ families and loved ones as they work to support our injured miners. Our brave miners put their lives on the line every day as they power our nation, and we are forever grateful for their contributions. Gayle and I, like all West Virginians, will keep those miners’ loved ones, families, and friends in our prayers.”
Calls were made to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), as well as to Leer Mining Complex, however, those calls had not been returned by press time on Tuesday.
While coal mining has been a vital part of West Virginia’s economy for generations, and technology over the years has improved mine conditions greatly, making it safer than miners of the past ever could have dreamed, it is classified as one of the state’s most dangerous jobs.
The thoughts and prayers of the Mountain Statesman staff are with the Leer Miners and their families.