Following the collapse of a roof at the CK Coal Corp’s No. 5 coal operation in Mingo County, the company waited more than seven hours to report the incident to state regulators this past February. The roof collapse resulted in the death of one miner. The time that lapsed between the collapse and the report altered what safety inspectors were able to investigate at the scene.
According to the report from the state Office of Miner’s Health, Safety and Training, the collapse occurred at approximately 9:30 pm on February 23, 2017, but was not reported until 4:34 am on February 24th.
The victim of the collapse, Dennis James “Dink” Fillinger, 62, survived the initial collapse, but died six weeks later due to complications from the injuries sustained in the event. Deputy state mine safety director Eugene White reported that Fillinger’s family said his death certificate reported his cause of death as “crushing injuries” from the roof fall.
Fillinger had nearly four decades of mining experience. According to reports, he was using a laser range meter to measure a cut of coal when another worker heard the beginning of the collapse. He tried to warn Fillinger, but tripped and fell.
By the time he stood up, Fillinger was already under two large rocks, one of which was on his chest. Workers in the area worked to free Fillinger and carry him out of the mine, where he was taken by ambulance and then flown to Pikeville Medical Center in Kentucky.
Reportedly, miners were told at 11 pm that night after the incident to “treat it as a normal night,” and clean up the area and prepare it for the morning shift. According to state officials, it was this clean up that affected their ability to investigate.
2017 Mining Accident Rate Higher than Usual
The number of coal miner deaths that have occurred in West Virginia so far this year equals the total number of deaths from 2015 and 2016 combined.
CK Coal Corp faces a state issued citation of $100,000 for not reporting the collapse within 15 minutes. The timely reporting requirement was enacted following the Sago Mine Disaster and the Aracoma Mine fire that occurred in 2006. The company received three additional citations, including failing to ensure the mine’s roof was controlled, using a flatcar instead of a mine mantrip to transport Filllinger, and for altering the scene of the accident.
Mining injuries appear to be on the rise and every day, miners face terrible risks, even under the best conditions. When their employers fail to adhere to safety guidelines, those risks increase.
If you or a loved one was injured in a mining accident, we can help. Contact Heavens Law at 888.897.5377 for a free consultation to discuss your case.