Skip to content

District 5


Cleco Corporation (Contractor) ID No. 44-06783-W9J
Paramont Coal Corporation
Norton, Wise County, Virginia

March 28, 1995


Harold J. Burnett
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
P.O. Box 560, Wise County Plaza, Norton, VA 24273
Ray McKinney, District Manager


The Roaring Fork #44 Mine, I.D. No. 44-06783, is a surface mine operated by Paramont Coal Corporation, a subsidiary of Pyxis Resources Company. The mine is located off State Route 603 approximately five miles northeast of Appalachia, Wise County, Virginia. The mine began operation January 31, 1995.

The Roaring Fork #44 Mine, which mines the Kelly and Imoben coal seams, produces approximately 2,000 tons of coal per day. Em- ployment is provided for 60 persons working two 12-hour shifts per day, 7 days per week. Shifts start at 7:00 A.M. and 7:00 P.M. The coal is transported by truck to the Paramont Coal Corporation Ramsey Complex.

The last Safety and Health Inspection (AAA) was completed February 2, 1995.

Cleco Corporation began operation in 1977 as an independent contractor. Employment is provided for 150 persons of which 20 work on mine property. The company provides services in five states for road and bridge construction, opening and closing of mines, sediment ponds and reclamation.


On Tuesday, March 28, 1995, at approximately 7:00 A.M., Joe Thompson, foreman, examined the work areas and assigned duties to the crew for the on-going construction of a sediment pond. Work began at 7:30 A.M. and progressed normally.

Earthen material was being loaded from a highwall and transported by truck to the pond site. Approximately forty truck loads of material were removed from the 22 feet highwall.

At approximately 10:20 A.M., Donald Bowles, Jr., truck driver, was maneuvering a truck under the raised loaded bucket of the front-end loader. While looking through the truck's rear view mirror, he noticed the highwall sloughing.

Gregory Keith McGlothlin, front-end loader operator/victim, had exited the loader on the side nearest the highwall for reasons unknown. When Bowles could not find McGlothlin and observed that the collapsed highwall had partially covered the right track of the front-end loader, he summoned help.

The crew began to manually remove the earthen material between the highwall and front-end loader. At approximately 12:00 P.M., the victim was found next to the right rear track of the front-end loader and there were no vital signs present. The victim was transported to Norton Community Hospital by the Norton Rescue Squad where he was pronounced dead on arrival due to suffocation.


The investigation revealed the following factors relevant to the occurrence of the accident.

  1. A Caterpillar Model No. 963 track-mounted front-end loader was used to load material from a highwall.

  2. The front-end loader was found to be in good working condition.

  3. During the shift, approximately forty truck loads of material were removed from the highwall creating a cut of 22 feet.

  4. The front-end loader was used to undercut the highwall at one location resulting in the collapse of the highwall.

  5. The front-end loader was found idling with the bucket loaded and in the raised position.

  6. The left door was closed and the right door was open on the front-end loader indicating the victim exited through the right door.

  7. The victim exited the front-end loader for reasons unknown.

  8. The victim placed himself in a hazardous location between the loader and the highwall.


The accident occurred because the highwall had been undercut which created an unstable condition resulting in the collapse of the highwall. The victim for reasons unknown, positioned himself in a hazardous location between the front-end loader and the highwall.


  1. A 103(k) Order No. 3774353 was issued to insure the safety of all persons at the site until the investigation was completed.

  2. A 104(a) Citation No. 2970097 citing 30 CFR 77.1000 was issued for mining methods employed to insure highwall stability were not adequate because the highwall had been undercut.

  3. A 104(a) Citation No. 2970098 citing 30 CFR 48.26(a), was issued because the employee had not received newly employed experienced miner training.

Respectfully submitted by:

Harold J. Burnett
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by:

Ray McKinney
District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB95C07]