Caroline MacGregor Published

Coal Miner Fatally Injured In Barbour County

Two coal miners ride a mantrip cart into a mine.
Two coal miners ride a mantrip cart into a mine.
Carol Guzy/NPR

On Wednesday at approximately 8:45 a.m., a man was fatally injured while working at Century Mining’s Longview Mine in Barbour County. 

Cecil Barker, 62, of Philippi, was traveling underground on a mantrip to survey the mining section when the vehicle wrecked.

Barker, who had 18 years of mining experience, was riding with two other surveyors who sustained minor injuries.

Gov. Jim Justice learned about the incident during his weekly briefing.

“These people get their dinner buckets, they go thousands of feet underground,” Justice said. “In many cases the height of the coal is not as high as this desk I’m sitting at.”

This is the second coal mining fatality this year. In February, 73-year-old William Mapes, of Freeburn, Kentucky, died when he was ejected from the bulldozer he was operating at the Appalachian Resource West Virginia’s Grapevine South Surface Mine in Mingo County. 

Justice, who made his wealth off coal mining, also took the news of Barker’s death as an opportunity to call out anyone who thinks West Virginia should move away from coal.

“For all of us, for all of this nation, for all that has happened through all the wars, for all of us,” Justice said. “And absolutely, without any question whatsoever, whether it be for coal for making electricity, or coal for making steel, today anybody that believes that this nation can do without coal today is an idiot. A blooming idiot.”