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Second Worker Dies from Doddridge County Drilling Explosion

A second worker injured from a July 7, 2013, drilling blast at a Doddridge County, West Virginia, drilling operation has died. According to various news outlets, the worker, Jason Mearns, 37, of Beverly passed away Sunday at West Penn Hospital in Pittsburgh.

Mearns was one of five people who suffered severe burn injuries in the explosion at an Antero Resources drilling site near New Milton in Doddridge County. Another individual, Tommy Paxton, died at West Penn Hospital on July 24, 2013, as a result of the injuries he sustained.

According to Antero Resources, the workers were employed by subcontractors working at the well site. Federal and state investigators are still looking into what caused methane gas to ignite as work was finishing up on the Hinterer 1H well.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) has said that the blast ruptured two tanks containing flow back water that Antero had been reusing. On July 12, 2013, the WV DEP ordered Antero to cease operations and idle the site.

Antero has until Wednesday, July 31, 2013, to explain what caused the explosion and preventative measures it plans to take to avoid similar explosions.

In West Virginia, if an individual has been egregiously injured on the job because of safety violations or an employer's carelessness, an individual may be able bring a cause of action known as a deliberate intent cause of action. This cause of action is set forth in the West Virginia Code at 23-4-2 and allows an injured worker to assert a cause of action if it can be shown that the employer violated a safety rule, knew the safety rule was being violated, and allowed employees to remain working in the unsafe environment.

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