West Virginia suffered its second coal mining fatality in as many days Thursday.
Nicholas David Adkins, 43, of Racine, died after being struck by an underground shuttle car Thursday morning at the Horse Creek Eagle mine near Naoma, in Raleigh County, according to the Governor’s Office.
The Horse Creek Eagle mine is operated by the Marfork Coal Company, whose parent company is Bristol, Tennessee-based Alpha Metallurgical Resources.
“We are deeply saddened by the tragic death of Mr. Adkins, who was part of the Alpha team for over fifteen years,” Alpha Metallurgical Resources said in a statement Friday morning. “Our hearts are with his wife, children, and all of his family and friends at this extremely difficult time.”
The death of Adkins, a mine section foreman, came a day after Trenten J. Dille, 26, of Littleton, was fatally injured overnight Wednesday while working in the underground section of a Marion County mine.
Dille, also a section foreman, was killed when the edge or rib of a coal support pillar fell and struck him, according to the Governor’s Office.
Adkins’s death marks the third fatal mining accident in West Virginia this year recorded by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Justin L. Lafferty, 38, died Feb. 21 as a result of injuries sustained after he was struck in the operators’ compartment of the shuttle car he was operating by another shuttle car on Jan. 22, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
That accident occurred at the Aracoma Coal Company’s non-union Davy Branch mine, in Logan County. The Aracoma Coal Company is also controlled by Alpha Metallurgical Resources, Inc.
There have been 21 fatal mining accidents in West Virginia since the beginning of 2017, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
Thursday’s fatal accident marks the second at the Horse Eagle Creek mine in that span.
James R. Adkins, a 48-year-old mine examiner with 18 years of mining experience, died after falling onto a moving conveyor belt at the mine in October 2017, according to the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
That accident happened because the mine operator did not follow proper safety procedures, the Mine Safety and Health Administration concluded in its final report on the incident.
The operator installed belt crossovers at all belt transfer points as a corrective action, according to the agency.
The Horse Creek Eagle mine has been the site of 37 state mine violations in 2021, according to data from the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training, resulting in just over $10,000 in penalties.
State laws violated at the mine so far this year have included provisions requiring roof control plans; removal of dangerous accumulations of fine, dry coal and coal dust from mines; roof control plans; and maintenance of face and electric equipment in safe operating condition, according to state Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training data.
“This second tragedy in as many days is a terrible blow to all West Virginians and to our mining community,” Gov. Jim Justice said in a news release in response to Adkins’s death.
Coal companies controlled by Justice have racked up thousands of mine violations.
Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration inspectors found 2,297 violations at Justice family-owned mines in West Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky and Virginia over a five-year period ending in May 2019, according to the initial complaint in a 2019 lawsuit by the feds seeking $4.7 million.
Nearly two dozen of the family’s companies agreed to pay roughly that amount to settle a federal lawsuit claiming they failed to pay mine safety fines.