West Virginia Office of Miners' Health Safety and Training

2006 MAJOR ACCIDENTS and INVESTIGATION TIMELINE
Last revised:  03/12/12 11:49 AM


Feb. 1, 2006

Two mine workers died in separate accidents at two Boone County, W.Va., mines. One miner died in a “rib roll” accident in which one of the supports in an underground mine came loose. The other miner was operating a bulldozer on a surface mine site. The operator struck a natural gas transmission line with the dozer, causing a rupture and fire.

After the accidents, Gov. Joe Manchin called on all West Virginia coal operators for a safety stand-down to cease production until safety checks can be conducted. He also called on the federal Miners Safety and Health Administration for assistance in conducting safety inspections. 

Jan. 24, 2006

The West Virginia Senate and House approve the governor’s bill unanimously just hours after its proposal. The legislation takes effect March 1. For information about the regulations, visit:

Regulation Updates

Jan. 23, 2006

Gov. Joe Manchin announces a three-part mine safety bill that requires coal mine operators to immediately contact a new statewide hot line to report accidents; requires requiring operators to place reserve oxygen/fresh air equipment inside mines; and requires operators to provide miners with electronic gear to track their location underground and communicate with the surface in emergencies. 

Jan. 21, 2006

Rescue teams discover the bodies of two Logan County miners who were trapped since Thursday night (Jan. 19) by a conveyor belt fire at the Aracoma Mine near Melville in Logan County.

Jesse Cole, district manager for the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, said the two miners likely died quickly because of the intense heat and carbon monoxide generated by the blaze. Doug Conaway, director of the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training, announced the finding at about 4:45 p.m., saying it appeared the miners had made a valiant effort to escape.

The two miners, Don Israel Bragg, 33, of Accoville, W.Va., and Ellery "Elvis" Hatfield, 47, of Simon, W.Va., had worked in the mine for five years.

Jan. 19, 2006

Two miners are trapped in Aracoma Coal’s Alma No. 1 Mine, operated by Massey Energy, after trying to escape a conveyor belt fire. Ten members of the 12-person crew escape the mine, but lose track of the other two miners in the process.  

Rescue teams spend the next two days attempting to rescue the miners from the huge underground mine.

Jan. 5, 2006

At about 9:55 a.m., the remaining miners’ bodies are removed from the Sago Mine.

Jan. 4, 2006

At about 12:50 a.m., rescue crews notify the Sago command center that the bodies of 11 miners have been found and one miner is alive.

Randal McCloy, Jr., the surviving miner, is removed from the mine at about 1 a.m. and transported to the hospital.

Jan. 3, 2006

At about 8 p.m. rescue teams discover the body of the Sago Mine fire boss, Terry Helms, who was nearest the explosion.

At about 11:46 p.m., the command center at the mine initially hears that 12 miners were reported alive. This miscommunication reached family members at the church.

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