A coal miner has died in West Virginia, the sixth mining fatality in the state this year.
In a news release, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) confirmed the fatality Friday at Carter Roag Coal Co.'s Pleasant Hill Mine on the Upshur-Randolph county border near Tallmansville, south of Buckhannon.
Carter Roag is owned by Metinvest, a mining and metals firm headquartered in Ukraine.
MSHA said Owen Mark Jones, 51, of Pickens, was found dead on the surface of the mine. The cause of death is unknown. Jones was a fireboss at the mine, according to the release.
The mine is idle while inspectors from the West Virginia Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training and MSHA investigate.
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice and his wife, Cathy, issued the following statement in response to the incident:
“Cathy and I are deeply saddened at the news of the death of one of our miners. It is especially heartbreaking to learn that this family has been devastated twice in the last 11 years by losing loved ones in the mines. Our prayers are with the Jones family, their friends and all of our dedicated miners in West Virginia."
According to The Charleston Gazette-Mail, Owen Jones’ brother, Jesse, died in the 2006 Sago mine disaster.
MSHA said three coal miners were killed on the job in West Virginia last year. The agency said 12 coal miners have died on the job so far this year, up from eight in 2016.