According to a Federal Mine Safety and Health Administration spokeswoman the accident occurred Monday at Humphreys Enterprises' No. 5 Strip surface mine in Wise County, VA. Mike Abbot of the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy described how the loaded truck left a road at a curve, and rolled after it hit a safety berm. The driver was pinned under the truck. The driver was employed by the contractor Presley Trucking.
"MSHA records show the accident is the first fatality at the mine since it opened in 1983," the AP reported. But the death was the fifth to occur in the coal industry in 2011.
We are saddened by this latest death in the coal industry, which had an even more tragic year in 2010. In that year, the Massey mining disaster in West Virginia (WV) left 29 miners dead. At least 10 wrongful death lawsuits have been brought in the wake of the deadliest mining disaster in the United States in 40 years.
Sadly the mining industry has a dubious safety record. In 2006, 11 miners were killed at the Sago mine in West Virginia after they were trapped underground by an explosion.
In the case of the truck driver fatality it isn't known if conditions at the mine contributed to the death or whether this was a tragic accident caused by driver error. But when heavy trucks roll over the potential for serious injury or death is always present.