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Worker plunges to his death at Bridger coal mine

A coal miner is dead after a bulldozer accident in the early morning hours on Sunday.

The incident happened at the Bridger coal mine near Rock Springs, which is jointly owned by PacifiCorp and Idaho Power. The Sweetwater County sheriff’s department says Mark Christopher Stassinos, 44, died after being thrown out of his bulldozer as it plunged over a highwall at the mine.

PacifiCorp spokesman Jeff Hymas says Stassinos had been working there for the last two years, and that mining operations have stopped pending an investigation.

A Mine Safety and Health Administration spokesperson couldn't say whether the timeline for the investigation will be affected by the ongoing government shutdown. More than half of the agency’s staff has been furloughed, but it is continuing to do “targeted inspections at high-hazard mines.”

MSHA’s last recorded inspection of the Bridger mine was in September, although the agency isn’t currently updating its online database. Inspectors found nine safety violations, ranging from issues with firefighting equipment to transportation-related citations.

In a press release about Stassinos' death and two other coal mining fatalities, Assistant Secretary of Labor Joseph Main called the incidents “troubling.” He noted that it’s been more than 10 years since there were so many deaths in a single weekend.

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