The Evansville Courier & Press reports that a 30 year old miner died Saturday while working at the Willow Lake Mine in Galatia, Illinois when a piece of mining equipment crushed him. Willow Lake has been open since 2002, employs 490 workers, and operates all day, every day, but is now shut down temporarily for investigation regarding the accident.
The Willow Lake Mine is operated by Peabody Energy Company and is no stranger to heartache. Another miner perished while working at Willow Lake on July 9, 2010, after he was struck by a battery-powered coal hauler. What’s more, the Willow Lake Mine appears to be at fault for this tragic accident. The Evansville Courier & Press stated that the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a notice to Willow Lake’s operators regarding safety violations on November 19th. The notice stated, “a pattern of violations exist” and called upon the operators to submit a “corrective action plan.” When the July 9, 2010 fatality occurred, the Washington Post reported that Willow Lake had the fifth most “significant and substantial” safety violations of any mine in the United States since 2009.
After the Upper Big Branch Mine-South disaster, federal regulators began to crack down on dangerous mines. The Upper Big Branch Mine-South disaster refers to the large explosion that occurred on April 5, 2010, killing twenty-nine of the thirty-one miners at the site. It was the worst mining accident since 1970, and lead to a $209 million dollar settlement according to the United States Department of Justice. The Huffington Post reported that the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s report that was published after the accident stated that it missed several problems prior to the explosion and that the accident was “entirely preventable.”
If the serious violations at Willow Lake are not corrected soon, we could sadly be facing another Upper Big Branch Mine scenario right here in Illinois. While no one denies that mining is inherently dangerous work, more should be done to protect the workers to ensure that there are no more avoidable accidents or fatalities.
The wrongful death attorneys at Levin and Perconti know just how devastating the loss of a loved one due to another’s negligence can be. Our Chicago attorneys have successfully handled hundreds of wrongful death cases and have recovered millions in settlements and verdicts for the families of wrongfully killed victims. While we understand that monetary damages can never replace a loved one, they can bring closure to the family and provide some much needed support during those difficult times. If you live in Illinois and believe that a loved one has suffered a wrongful death, contact our offices to set up a free consultation to discuss you legal rights.