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Freelandville miner dies Wednesday; investigation follows


A Freelandville man died Wednesday, and an investigation is ongoing into the cause of his death due to his involvement in a fire the preceding Friday.

“An autopsy will be conducted to determine the exact cause of death,” said Sullivan County Sheriff Clark Cottom, who also noted that he could not release the man’s name pending family notification.

The initial incident was called into Sullivan County 911 Dispatch around 3:50 a.m. Sept. 7. They were told a hauler for Bear Run Coal Mine had caught fire.

“The initial report of a piece of heavy equipment on fire, and they were requesting both fire and medical assistance …” Cottom said. “And the driver had to jump from the vehicle. The driver did sustain burns about his body. He was conscious and speaking with rescue personnel at the time.”

The sheriff added that the man was taken to Terre Haute Regional Hospital for treatment, and discussion took place about airlifting the man to an Indianapolis hospital

“However, weather conditions prohibited that,” he said.

Cottom added that the Mine Safety and Health Administration and Occupational Safety and Health Administration would be the main investigating agencies in the case.

“And it’s not uncommon that local police and medical workers are interviewed by those departments,” he said. “We oftentimes provide a report or a statement or at time, we’re deposed on what our findings may have been.”

Bear Run Mine is operated by Peabody Coal.

“We were informed Wednesday the individual suddenly passed away,” a Peabody representative told WTWO-TV 2. “We were surprised and dismayed to learn of the sudden passing and extend our deepest sympathy to family, friends and colleagues."

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