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Community remembers man killed in mining accident

Published: Nov. 24, 2020 at 5:53 PM EST
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BOONE COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - A small Boone County community is coming together to remember the life of a young miner killed in an accident on Monday morning.

Officials said Taylor Halstead, 20, of Bob White, was fatally injured at Panther Mining LLC’s American Eagle Mine in Dawes, which is in Kanawha County. Dispatchers said the accident was reported by a coworker after Halstead was hit against a waterline in the underground coal mine.

Halstead planned on leaving mining in a couple of months to become a police officer, his family told WSAZ. He has a 2-month-old daughter with his fiancé, and was looking for a job that was safer and had better hours.

“He grew up to be a wonderful man and a wonderful father in the time he was allowed,” neighbor Regina Castle said. Her son was best friends with Halstead and he would be at their house multiple times per week.

“He was a great kid,” Castle said. “He would drive by and see me here sitting and swing in and ask me, ‘hey, what are you doing?’ He would come through and check on his mom, check on her every day on his way home. Ask her how she was doing or if she needed anything. That’s just the kind of person he is.”

The entire community was shocked by Halstead’s death, Castle said. The neighboring families were planning to have a large Thanksgiving dinner together, but those plans are no longer important as everyone tries to grieve.

“It literally felt like I lost my son,” Castle said. “I keep waiting for him to walk up and be like, ‘what in the world are you doing?’ Wondering why I am here sitting talking to you. That’s what I’m waiting on. I think we are all waiting on him to just pop up and be like, ‘just kidding.’”

Halstead worked with the Van Volunteer Fire Department before becoming a miner. In his year with the department, members said he helped bring people closer together and was always willing to talk about any issues.

“He was always there for everybody, he was a funny guy,” firefighter Ethan Howell said. “He would always brighten your day up, try to make you laugh, I mean, he would give you the shirt off his back for you. He was just that kind of person.”

Howell said he had talked with Halstead about the dangers of mining, and Halstead expressed that his greatest fear was getting crushed while in the mines.

The department is trying to come together to help each other process what has happened in the small town where everyone knows each other.

“I just didn’t want to think it was real and it was unreal that all of the sudden he was just gone,” Howell said. “I couldn’t wrap my head around it for the longest time. You just can’t think that 20 years old and he’s dead. I just couldn’t get my mind wrapped around it.”

“He always tried to make everybody’s day better, so I’m just trying to think about that and think of the good memories,” Howell continued. “He would not want me to be so down and crying and stuff, he would want me to just be happy and remember the good times.”

The family is currently working to plan funeral arrangements.

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