Brother of Sago victim dies at Randolph Co. mine


BUCKHANNON -- Tragedy has struck a local family a second time.

On the morning of Jan. 2, 2006, Owen and Jesse Jones showed up for their shift at the coal mine at Sago. The brothers chatted briefly about the previous holiday weekend, and then Jesse and a group of 12 other men headed underground.

Owen entered the mine minutes later. As he and his crew rumbled through the underground tunnels, the mine was rocked by an explosion.

"There was no warning, no noise," Owen told USA Today at the time. "Just air and dust and heat."

Owen tried to reach his brother and the other men deeper in the mine but was forced back by toxic levels of carbon monoxide. Jesse and 11 others ultimately died in the disaster.

Now, more than a decade later, the Jones family must experience that heartbreak a second time.

On Friday afternoon, Owen lost his life at the Pleasant Hill Mine in Randolph County, according to the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training.

"Preliminary information indicates Owen Mark Jones of Pickens, W.Va., was found deceased on the surface of the mine," reads the press release. "Cause of death is unknown at this time. Mr. Jones was a fireboss at the mine. He was 51 years old."

The mine is owned by Carter Roag Coal Company, which is in turn controlled by Ukrainian-based Metinvest BV.

Governor Jim Justice released this statement: "Cathy and I are deeply saddened at the news of the death of one of our miners. It is especially heartbreaking to learn that this family has been devastated twice in the last 11 years by losing loved ones in the mines. Our prayers are with the Jones family, their friends and all of our dedicated miners in West Virginia."

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