Skip to content

District 4


Extra Energy, Inc.
Eckman-Page Strip and Auger (I.D. No. 46-07465)
Neal and Associates, Inc. (I.D. No. TRC)
Eckman, McDowell County, West Virginia

April 9, 1995


William H. Uhl, Jr.
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
100 Bluestone Road, Mount Hope, WV 25880
Michael J. Lawless, District Manager



On Sunday, April 9, 1995, about 10:30 a.m., Melvin Brian Day, Security Guard for Neal and Associates, Inc., was found in his 1982 Ford Escort (EXP) with the engine running, asphyxiated from exhaust fumes. The accident occurred on the Extra Energy, Inc., Eckman-Page Strip and Auger Mine property. The body was discovered and removed from the scene by the victim's father and brother prior to notification of the victim's employer, the mine operator, or the appropriate State and Federal agencies.

A preliminary on-site investigation was conducted by the McDowell County Sheriff's Department and the West Virginia State Police. The body was transported to the West Virginia State Medical Examiner in Charleston after the victim was pronounced dead on arrival at the Welch Emergency Hospital.

The accident and resultant fatality occurred as a result of management's failure to ensure that the equipment was being maintained in a safe operating condition.


The Eckman-Page Strip and Auger is an active surface mine operated by Extra Energy, Inc., and is located near Eckman, McDowell County, West Virginia. Coal is removed from the Pocahontas No. 11A and 11B coal seams which average 32 and 30 inches, respectively.

Eckman-Page Strip and Auger employs three miners on one pro- duction shift, and works five 10-hour shifts per week. Coal is mined from its natural deposit using one 28-inch dual-head auger, one Caterpillar 988a front-end loader, and one Caterpillar 955k track loader. The coal is loaded into trucks and transported to Munson Roadside loadout, where it is transferred to railroad cars for marketing.

Neal and Associates, Inc., Security Services and Investigations, is located in Bluewell, Mercer County, West Virginia. The agency employed one security guard at the Eckman-Page Strip and Auger Mine 3 days per week, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. The agency is contracted by Extra Energy, Inc., to provide security services on the mine property.

Steve Haynes is President and Superintendent of Extra Energy, Inc. Officials for Neal and Associates, Inc., are: Judy Neal, President; Harless Mitchem, General Manager; and James Altizer, Field Supervisor.

The last regular Mine Safety and Health Administration safety and health inspection at this mine was completed January 3, 1995.


On Sunday, April 9, 1995, Melvin Brian Day, security guard employed by Neal and Associates, Inc., was found asphyxiated from exhaust fumes. He was found seated behind the wheel of his 1982 Ford Escort, Virginia registration No. ZTV-3370, which was parked in the coal haulage roadway with the engine running.

Melvin Day, the victim's father, stated that Brian was usually home (Horsepen, Virginia) by 6:30 a.m. About 10:00 a.m., he and the victim's brother, Shawn Day, decided to look for him and drove to Brian's work location. Upon arriving at the top entrance to the Eckman-Page Strip and Auger about 11:00 a.m., the gate was found to be locked. Melvin and Shawn proceeded to walk onto the property about 0.5 miles when they found the victim's car parked on the coal haulage road.

Access to the vehicle was obtained by taking out the sun roof window. Shawn entered the vehicle, turned the engine off, and retrieved the car keys from the ignition.

Shawn walked back to the gate entrance, opened the gate with the keys obtained from the victim's vehicle, and entered the mine property again, driving the father's car back to the accident scene.

Melvin attempted to contact any emergency service for help by using the Citizen Band Radio in the victim's vehicle but could not contact anyone. The father of the victim, Melvin Day, decided to transport Brian and to obtain help. Melvin believed that Brian was alive at that time even though he had made no checks to determine if vital signs were present. Melvin and Shawn called for assistance by telephone. Guardian Angel Ambulance was contacted at 12:00 noon, arrived at the Bantam Market, Gary, McDowell County, West Virginia, at 12:05 p.m., left the site at 12:47 p.m., and arrived at the Welch Emergency Hospital at 1:01 p.m. Day was pronounced dead upon arrival and transported immediately to the West Virginia Criminal Investigations Bureau, Charleston, West Virginia, to be examined by the Medical Examiner.


The Mine Safety and Health Administration was notified at 12:30 p.m. on April 10, 1995, that a fatal accident had occurred. Mine Safety and Health Administration personnel arrived at the mine at 2:40 p.m.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training jointly conducted the investigation with the assistance of mine management personnel.

Representatives of all parties traveled to the accident scene, and an examination of the equipment involved was conducted. Photographs, video, and relevant measurements were taken at the accident site and of the equipment. Interviews of individuals known to have direct knowledge of the facts surrounding the accident were conducted at the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training in Welch, West Virginia, on April 18, 1995.



Records indicated that training had been conducted in accordance with Part 48, Title 30 CFR.

Physical Factors

  1. According to the security logs obtained from Neal and Associates, Inc., Day's last completed log entries were made from 6:00 p.m. on April 7, 1995, to 6:00 a.m., April 8, 1995, which were his normally scheduled work hours.

  2. Day reported back to work at 6:00 p.m. on April 8, 1995, and no entries were found or made by Day in the office daily report.

  3. The last known communication to have been made with Day was by an off-duty security guard and friend, James D. Perry, Jr.

  4. Perry stated that he had contact with Day by Citizen Band Radio at 1:35 a.m., April 9, 1995, and that they talked for approximately 15 minutes.

  5. The investigation revealed that Day was working two jobs and had very little sleep for 2 days preceding the accident.

  6. It was revealed that Day had purchased the 1982 Ford Escort about the time he was hired by Neal and Associates, Inc., for the purpose of patrolling the surface mine properties.

  7. The earliest official daily report indicates that Day began patrolling the Eckman Site on November 25, 1994.

  8. The investigation revealed that the victim was required to use his personal vehicle as a condition of employment.

  9. As a security guard, the victim worked three 12-hour shifts per week, 6:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m., Friday through Monday morning.

  10. Day was a minimum wage employee and did not receive an allowance for fuel or the use of his privately owned vehicle while on security patrol of the mine property.

  11. The victim's duties consisted of patrolling the haulage road from the auger site to the entrance gates, a distance of approxi- mately 3 miles.

  12. The weather was moderate, 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit, with a clear sky.

  13. The victim's father and brother found the vehicle parked in the middle of the coal haulage road with the engine running.

  14. The investigation found that the equipment (1982 Ford Escort) was not maintained in a safe operating condition in that the exhaust system was defective at three different locations, allowing exhaust fumes to enter the vehicle. Leaks were present in the engine compartment where the exhaust pipes connected to the two exhaust manifolds. Leaks were observed under the driver's compartment, and the tail pipe was missing from the exhaust port of the muffler located at the left rear portion of the vehicle, thus terminating the exhaust system 8 1/2 inches short of the rear bumper.

  15. Heavy gauge wires, rather than exhaust pipe clamps, had been used to secure the exhaust system. The makeshift wiring had come loose, allowing the exhaust system to shift left several inches. When this occurred, the exhaust port was located directly in front of a metal portion of the car body which acted as a deflec- tor, coursing the exhaust fumes back underneath the vehicle.

  16. The examination of the vehicle also revealed that several areas of the vehicle's body were rusted through, which allowed direct access of the exhaust fumes to the interior.

  17. Witnesses who first arrived at the scene stated that all windows in the vehicle were closed and the doors were locked.

  18. When examining the vehicle with the engine running and the windows closed, excessive amounts of carbon monoxide (900 P.P.M. in a 16-minute period) were found in the driver's compartment of the vehicle.

  19. The coroner's report confirmed the cause of death as carbon monoxide intoxication.


The victim succumbed to the effects of exhaust fumes (carbon monoxide) entering the interior of the vehicle.

The accident and resultant fatality occurred as a result of management's failure to ensure that the equipment was being maintained in a safe operating condition.


  1. A 104(a) Citation No. 3964768 was issued to Extra Energy, Inc., stating in part that the 1982 Ford Escort was not main- tained in a safe operating condition, a violation of Section 77.404(a), 30 CFR.

  2. A 104(a) Citation No. 3964766 was issued to Neal and Associates, Inc., stating in part that the 1982 Ford Escort was not being maintained in a safe operating condition, a violation of Section 77.404(a), 30 CFR.

Respectively submitted by:

William H. Uhl, Jr.
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by:

Michael J. Lawless
District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB95C09]