Arch Coal

A shovel prepares to dump a load of coal into a 320-ton truck at the Arch Resources Inc.-owned Black Thunder mine near Wright.

A 31-year-old Gillette man was killed working at a Campbell County coal mine Wednesday.

Jeff A. Wendland and four other workers were adding a section to the boom of a 200-ton crane at Black Thunder mine near Wright. As they were doing so, Wendland was underneath the section when it fell onto the right side of his shoulder and neck area, said Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds.

A mine employee called the Campbell County Sheriff’s Office around noon requesting an ambulance and an air ambulance. Emergency medical services personnel pronounced Wendland dead at the scene, Reynolds said.

The cause of death has been determined as asphyxiation with crushing injuries, said Campbell County Coroner Paul Wallem.

Wendland worked as a millwright at the mine and had been at Black Thunder for 13 years, according to a statement from the mine's parent company, Arch Natural Resources. He leaves behind a wife and four children.

He was helping to perform a dragline repair when the accident happened, Arch said. The mine is working with federal and state officials to investigate the accident and determine what caused it.

Mining operations were suspended Wednesday but have since resumed.

"We are deeply saddened by this tragic event and extend our most profound sympathies to Jeff's family, friends and co-workers," said Keith Williams, president of Thunder Basin Coal Co. "We are focusing our energies on lending our support to Jeff's family during this incredibly difficult time.

"At the same time, we are dedicated to investigating and developing a full understanding of the circumstances surrounding the incident so that we can ensure that an event of this type never happens again."

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