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3 hurt in Westmoreland limestone quarry accident

Two investigators from the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration are at the scene of a mining accident that injured three workers at the Whitney Stone Quarry in Unity.

Two of the workers suffered serious trauma in the 5 a.m. accident and were unconscious when emergency crews arrived, according to dispatch reports.

Both men were airlifted by medical helicopter to an undisclosed Pittsburgh hospital. A third person was taken by ambulance to Excela Health Latrobe hospital, according to emergency reports.

“A massive ground fall occurred early this morning at Heidelberg Cement AG’s Whitney Plant in Westmoreland County, an underground limestone mine,” said Amy Louviere of the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s public affairs office in Washington, D.C.

“Three miners were discovered about 50 feet from the mine’s entrance. Two of them were unconscious and Life-flighted to the hospital, while the third was taken to the local hospital,” she said.

Louviere said the underground portion of the mine remains closed during the investigation.

The identities of the injured workers have not been released.

The workers reportedly were headed into the mine this morning when the accident occurred.

Officials at the firm’s mining operations in Whitney and Connellsville, Fayette County, declined comment on the accident.

Tony Matuszky, chief of the Whitney-Hostetter Volunteer Fire Department, said firefighters from that department, Chestnut Ridge and Youngstown set up a landing zone for two medical helicopters at the quarry to transport the two seriously injured men. Paramedics from Mutual Aid Ambulance treated the injured workers at the scene, he said.

“We basically assisted in preparing those who were injured for transport,” Matuszky said.

A subsidiary of Heidelberg Cement, Hanson Aggregates BMC has operated the mine since 2009, MSHA records show.

According to the agency’s online records, the mine has been cited for safety violations 223 times since 2004 and paid fines totalling $86,537 during the period.

MSHA records indicate that 10 injuries have occurred there over the past 11 years, most recently in 2011. None was fatal.

In related news, Communication may not be an issue anymore for mine rescuers.

This article was written by Paul Peirce from Tribune-Review, Greensburg, Pa. and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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