Death at West Elk Mine likely accidental

The death of Fred Benally of Farmington, N.M., after a fall at the West Elk Mine remains under investigation.

The mine, meanwhile, is operating on its normal schedule, a spokeswoman for Arch Coal said. Arch Coal owns the mine near Somerset.

Benally was pronounced dead at Delta County Memorial Hospital on Thursday after he fell from a catwalk and struck an I-beam below.

A preliminary assessment suggested Benally’s death was accidental, Gunnison County Sheriff Rick Besecker said.


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