LOGAN COUNTY, W.Va. — Brian D. Wallen, 49, tragically died Nov. 1 in an accident at the Mingo Logan Coal Company’s Mountain Laurel Mine in Sharples.
Wallen was traveling down a slope travel way on a rubber-tire electric mine utility vehicle when the vehicle crashed around 5:15 p.m., according to a local news report. Onsite workers tried to stabilize Wallen so he could be brought to the surface for emergency medical assistance, but he was not breathing when 911 was called.
The cause of the crash has not been determined and an investigation into the accident is underway.
Wallen was an assistant chief electrician with more than two decades of mining experience. He is survived by a wife and three children.
COMMENTARY ON THE BRIAN WALLEN ACCIDENT
I am troubled to learn of Mr. Wallen's tragic death on the job. My heart goes out to the family he left behind, who did not get the chance to say goodbye.Mining is thought by many to be one of the most dangerous occupations in America. For most of the 20th century that may have been true. However, a report by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) indicates that the number of mining fatalities had decreased significantly in the last 30 years. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that fatal work accidents in mining and related trades are the lowest of all industries in the nation in 2019, accounting for 127 fatalities. However, one fatality is one too many for the loved ones left to struggle through the aftermath of a sudden catastrophe.
With the numerous mine safety standards and procedures MSHA has implemented to reduce mining accidents, one has to wonder what went wrong. Perhaps fatigue was a contributing factor. Or perhaps there was a machinery malfunction. Whether human error or mechanical failure, we will have to wait for the results of the investigation to learn more details. Based on the minimal information released, it is difficult to determine what may have caused the mishap.
I have seen much of the heartbreak caused by fatal work accidents over the last three decades in my profession as a personal injury attorney, and I have represented many families in similar situations to Mr. Wallen's family. I extend my sincere condolences to his wife and children.
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