WHEELING - The daughter of a Shadyside man who died last year after having his leg torn off in an accident at Marshall County's Shoemaker Mine is suing Consol Energy for his wrongful death.
Charles McIntire died Oct. 17 at the mine when a ditch-digging machine surged forward and ran over him. The 62-year-old Shadyside resident had nearly 10 years of mining experience and almost six years at the Marshall County mine near Benwood.
The complaint - filed by McIntire's daughter, Gene Ann Marie Blythe - "sustained extreme pain and suffering, both physical and mental" before his death. The document asserts that Consol failed to conduct a safety inspection, failed to provide required equipment, failed to properly maintain the equipment it did provide and failed to properly identify the safety functions on equipment.
The case was originally filed in Marshall County Circuit Court, but has since been moved to U.S. District Court in Wheeling. In addition to Consol, the suit lists McIntire's supervisor, Joseph Ontko, by name as a defendant in the case.
McIntire, who worked as a timber man and laborer, was part of a crew assigned to clean up debris that had fallen near a main hauling line on the day of his death, the complaint notes. Crew members realized the rocks were too large for the equipment they were using, so they decided to use a ditch digger. Ontko wanted McIntire to operate the ditch digger.
The lawsuit notes McIntire told Ontko his training on the machine may have expired. Ontko then "inadequately and negligently" provided about 25 minutes of refresher training to McIntire, the complaint states.
U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration spokeswoman Amy Louviere said last year that McIntire was bridging at a nip connection for his machine. A nip is the device at the end of the trailing cable of a mining machine.
Louviere said McIntire exited the machine to hook up the nip. It seems the machine struck him when it re-energized, amputating his leg. The area where the accident occurred is called the "jump," an area where there is a 50-foot break in the trolley wire, where regular vehicles can cross the mine track.
Louviere said McIntire tried to use a jumper cable to move the loading machine. The machine failed to coast through a gap in the trolley wire. McIntire reportedly dismounted to connect the jumper cable to the trolley wire to move the machine through the gap.
McIntire then placed one end of the nip on the energized trolley wire and one end on the harp of the machine's trolley pole. An eyewitness said when the he placed the nip on the harp, the machine suddenly moved forward, running over McIntire.
"As he lay underneath the ditch digger with his leg amputated, Charles McIntire was conscious and experienced significant pain and suffering," the complaint states, noting the victim suffered catastrophic injuries.
The complaint further asserts Ontko observed McIntire taking the actions that led to his death "and permitted Charles McIntire to continue working in the manner which he did, thereby exposing Charles McIntire to unsafe working conditions."
Blythe seeks compensation for McIntire's pain and suffering, medical bills, funeral expenses and lost wages and earning capacity but does not identify a specific dollar amount.