Longtime residents of this state remark, “The only time West Virginia gets on the news is when there is a mining disaster or when a miner dies at work.” The state was back in the news Dec. 17, when miner John Elliott, 26, of Newburg, was killed in a roof fall.

According to an administrator at the state’s Office of Miners’ Health, Safety and Training, three miners were riding down into the mine when the roof collapsed, killing Elliott.

The mine, Prime No. 1, near Morgantown, is owned by the Dana Mining Co. The 45 miners at Prime No. 1 produce 500,000 tons of coal a year, valued at $21 million.

Elliott is the 24th West Virginia miner to die at work this year, making it the bloodiest year since 1981, when 28 miners were killed in the state. Although only the second largest coal producing state, West Virginia ranks first in deaths in the mines this year. Kentucky is second with 16 miners who will not be home for Christmas.