Caroline MacGregor Published

MSHA: Cause Of Death Changed For Miner 

an underground area of a coal mine deluged by waterMine, Safety and Health Administration

Investigators have made a new determination in the cause of a miner’s death last August in McDowell County. 

The death of 39-year-old Christopher R. Finley was originally blamed on “medical related issues” in a preliminary report released by the Mine, Safety and Health Administration (MSHA).

Now Finley’s death is being ruled an accidental drowning.

Finley, a native of Princeton, was working at Twin State Mining, Inc. ‘s Mine No. 39 in McDowell County on August 18th. 

According to the initial report, he was found unresponsive lying in approximately eight inches of water and mud. The death certificate said he was “installing hose for a dewatering pump” and listed his cause of death as drowning.

Following further investigation Finley’s cause of death was changed by MSHA after the agency determined it should be charged to the mining industry.

His death was the 9th coal mining death in 2023 nationwide and the third in West Virginia. 

A section foreman, Finley had 15 years of mining experience. He left behind a wife and four children.