West Virginia mine blast boss gets three-year sentence

West Virginia coal mine 5 April 2010 Upper Big Branch's new owners have agreed to pay $210m (£135m) in damages for the accident

Related Stories

A former US mine chief who lied to investigators about one of the worst mining tragedies in decades has been sentenced to three years in prison.

Hughie Elbert Stover was in charge of the Upper Big Branch mine, where 29 men died after an explosion in April 2010.

Prosecutor Booth Goodwin had sought a 25 year sentence.

An investigation into the incident has found that the mine violated 369 safety regulations, 12 of which contributed to the blast.

Mr Goodwin told reporters that the sentence "represents perhaps one of the longest sentences ever handed down in a mine safety case".

"We wanted to send a clear message and will continue to send that anyone who obstructs our investigation, they're going to be met with the harshest prosecution."

Record settlement

In December, the new owners of the mine agreed to pay $210m (£135m) in damages, the largest US settlement for a mining disaster.

Alpha Natural Resources will compensate victims' families, pay fines and upgrade safety features.

Stover is the only person to be prosecuted so far, although the agreement does not prevent former executives from being prosecuted as well.

Bill Wilmoth, Stover's defence lawyer, said he had not decided on whether to appeal against the sentence, but called the three-year term a "hollow" victory for his client.

"Three years is a long time for someone who is 60 to be incarcerated," Mr Wilmoth said.

Gary Quarles, whose son died in the blast, told the Associated Press news agency the punishment was more than he expected.

"It's a little bit of satisfaction. It's a start," Mr Quarles said.

More on This Story

Related Stories

More US & Canada stories

RSS

Features & Analysis

  • French luxury Tea House, Mariage Freres display of tea pots Tea for tu

    France falls back in love with tea - but don't expect a British cuppa


  • Woman in swimming pool Green stuff

    The element that makes a familiar smell when mixed with urine


  • People take part in an egg-cracking contest in the village of Mokrin, 120km (75 miles) north of Belgrade, Serbia on 20 April 2014In pictures

    Images from around the world as Christians mark Easter Sunday


  • Female model's bottom in leopard skin trousers as she walks up the catwalkBum deal

    Why budget buttock ops can be bad for your health


Elsewhere on the BBC

  • ITChild's play

    It's never been easier for small businesses to get their message out to the world

Programmes

  • An aerial shot shows the Olympic Stadium, which is closed for repair works on its roof, in Rio de Janeiro March 28, 2014.Extra Time Watch

    Will Rio be ready in time to host the Olympics in 2016? The IOC president gives his verdict

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.