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Coal worker killed in bulldozer incident in West Virginia

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Coal worker killed in bulldozer incident in West Virginia

A West Virginia coal worker was killed early Dec. 29, when the bulldozer he was driving went over a highwall.

Thurman Watts, a 34-year-old bulldozer operator from of Harts, W.Va., was working at Revelation Energy LLC's S-7 surface mine in Fayette County when the incident occurred around 1:00 a.m., according to the state Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training.

Gov. Jim Justice said in a statement that he and his wife were "deeply saddened" after learning of the incident.

"It's heartbreaking when we hear that one of our coal miners has lost their life while on the job," he said. "Please join us in praying for the family, friends, and co-workers of Thurman A. Watts and all of our hard-working and dedicated coal miners in West Virginia."?

Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., tweeted that all of West Virgina was "heartbroken" by the loss and that "Yet again, we are reminded of the incredible sacrifices our coal miners & their families make."

U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration data show the S-7 mine produced 2,013 tons of coal in the first quarter of 2017, and nothing in the subsequent two quarters; fourth-quarter production has not yet been reported. The mine produced nothing in 2016 and 40,196 tons in 2015.

The mine has received two safety citations this year and reported one nonfatal injury, the agency's data shows.

The fatality is the 15th coal mining death of 2017, not including a coal employee who died after falling into a fissure at an abandoned mine in November. The death toll of miners has increased 88% this year compared to the record low year of 2016.

Revelation did not respond to a request for comment.