West Virginia coal miner killed in excavator accident

WYOMING COUNTY, W. Va. — A West Virginia coal miner died Thursday morning in the state’s first fatal mine accident of 2024.

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The accident happened around 8:42 a.m. at the Coal Mountain No. 1 Surface Mine in Wyoming County, the Mine Safety and Health Administration reported. No other details of the incident have been released.

Gov. Jim Justice’s office identified the miner, who was operating an excavator, as Virgil Paynter, of Lynco.

“This is truly a heartbreaking tragedy because we lost another incredible West Virginia hero,” Justice said in a statement. “We should all be grateful for Mr. Paynter’s service, just as we should be thankful for all the miners across our state and country.”

The Mine Safety and Health Administration and the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety, and Training were at the mine Thursday conducting an investigation into Paynter’s death.

Data indicates that Paynter is the seventh miner killed nationwide since January. There have also been fatal incidents in Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Pennsylvania and Texas.

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