Fairview, WV Coal Mine Roof Fall, June 1971
MARIOIN MINE ROOF FALL KILLS TWO; FOUR ESCAPE.
Fairview -- (AP) -- Two veteran coal miners, one of them a foreman, were crushed to death Friday when a roof collapsed deep in an underground coal mine near this Marion County community seven miles south of the Pennsylvania border.
Two other men were injured and rescued from the clogged section of an underground tunnel which is 700 feet deep and a mile and a half back in the Eastern Associated Coal Company's Federal No. 2 mine.
"We don't know what happened," said J. J. Higgins, vice president for personnel for Eastern. "State and federal inspectors have been in the mine almost since the accident happened, and I'm sure they're working to determine a cause."
Killed in the roof fall which occurred between 2 and 3 a.m. were DON LAVELLE, 41, of Mannington, and RICHARD McCAULEY, 43, of Cassville in Monongalia County.
LAVELLE, a foreman and 10-year mining veteran, and McCAULEY, a loading machine operator and 11-year veteran of underground mines, were part of a crew of six working in the section of the coal mine where the roof fall occurred.
Two of the six men working in the crew escaped from the mine immediately after the roof fall, C. V. Zickafoose, manager of Eastern's northern division, said.
Injured and recovered from the mine were ROBERT LEE STRAKAL, 24, of Cassville, and STEVEN SHUMAN, 29, of Fairmont.
After submitting to surgery for leg and abdominal injuries, SHUMAN was reported in serious condition in a Morgantown hospital. STRAKAL is reported in good condition in the same hospital.
By 6 a.m. officials reported that rescue crews composed of area miners and directed by state and federal officials entered the giant mine and began searching for the three trapped men.
By 7:30 a.m. voice contact had been made with SHUMAN. Two hours later the crews reached SHUMAN and ferried him to the surface where he was taken by ambulance to the hospital.
For more than an hour after that no word came from underground about the fate of the remaining two men as families and miners established the traditional gathering which surrounds coal mines stricken by disaster.
Shortly after 11 a.m. a mine foreman appeared and said, "They're both dead."
Company officials said the roof fall was the first fatal accident at the mine since it opened five years ago. They declined to speculate about possible causes.
Charleston Gazette West Virginia 1971-06-12