Patriot Coal Worker Dies in Kentucky Mine Accident

A worker was killed today in a Kentucky mine owned by Patriot Coal Co., the company’s third such fatality this year.

Eli Eldridge, 34, of Sturgis, Kentucky died after he was struck by a vehicle shuttling coal to the feeder of an underground belt line at the company’s Highland No. 9 mine in Union County, St. Louis-based Patriot said in a statement.

Production at the mine has been suspended since the fatality, which occurred about 12 p.m. eastern time, while the state’s Division of Mine Safety investigates, Patriot said. The mine produced 2.05 million tons of coal this year through September 30, according to data from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Mine Safety and Health Administration.

Two Patriot workers were killed in May after a large pillar of coal burst at the Brody Mine No. 1 in Boone County, West Virginia. That mine had been cited for safety violations 54 times from October 2012 to October 2013, according to a notification from MSHA last year.

MSHA issued three citations against Patriot in October for having failed to prevent the coal burst or report a similar event that had taken place three days prior.

Patriot, which is closely held, filed for bankruptcy in July 2012 and exited in December last year. The company ranked last out of 25 major U.S. coal producers for incident rates in 2013, according to data provided by MSHA.

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