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District 4


No. 1 Mine (ID No. 46-08110)
Dunn Coal and Dock
M. G. C., Inc. (ID K26)
Cannelton, Fayette County, West Virginia

June 2, 1995


Jerry E. Sumpter
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
100 Bluestone Road, Mount Hope, West Virginia 25880
Earnest C. Teaster, Jr., District Manager


The Dunn Coal and Dock, No. 1 mine, is located at Cannelton, Kanawha County, West Virginia. Coal is removed from seven coal seams. The No. 6 Block averages 0 to 49 inches in height, the Upper and Lower No. 5 Block averages 31 to 71 inches in height, the Upper and Lower Clarion averages 0 to 68 inches in height, the Stockton averages 74 to 121 inches in height, and the Upper and Lower Coalburg averages 12 to 63 inches in height. The mine employs 110 persons on two production shifts per day, five and six days a week. Coal is removed from its natural deposit using Caterpillar D-11N and D-9L bulldozers, a Hitachi 3500 hydraulic excavator, Caterpillar 988 and 992 front-end loaders, Caterpillar 785 and Komatsu ND785 overburden haulers, and Ingersoll-Rand DM50 and Drill-Tech D50KS highwall drills. The coal is loaded from the strip pits and transported to the Lady Dunn Preparation Plant.

Dunn Coal and Dock is a subsidiary of Cannelton Industries, Incorporated, which is a subsidiary of Cyprus Amax. The officers of Dunn Coal and Dock are: Stephen L. Warren, president; Lee Dickerson, vice president and treasurer; Wayne E. Gresham, vice president and secretary; and Helen M. Feeney, sales director.

M. G. C., Inc., was contracted by Cannelton Industries, Incorporated, to clear trees for site preparation in areas to be surface mined. The trees were stacked in assorted piles and burned. M. G. C., Inc. had 15 employees and is owned and operated by Marcel Caron. Work is mostly contracted out in southern West Virginia and southwest Virginia cutting trees.

A Mine Safety and Health Administration regular Safety and Health Inspection was ongoing at the time of the accident.


Four of M. G. C., Inc.'s, employees began work clearing trees at 7:30 a.m. on June 2, 1995, and work progressed as normal without any unusual incidents. Bruno Caron, crew leader, and his father, Nelson Caron, were operating bulldozers dragging trees at approximately 10:30 a.m. Gerald Royer and Alian Cloutier were cutting trees over the ridge from them. About 10:30 a.m. Royer ran over to the Carons to report the accident and to get medical assistance. Bruno Caron immediately went to the accident scene where Cloutier had been cutting a tree. He found him slumped over the chain saw that he had been operating. Cloutier had apparently cut a large tree which was entangled with a large dead tree, located approximately 20 feet up the hill above where he was cutting. When the tree fell, it uprooted the dead tree, causing it to fall and fatally crush Cloutier.

Bruno Caron stated that he moved Cloutier to a lying position and checked for a pulse. When he could not detect any vital signs, he tried to administer artificial respiration to no avail. Bruno Caron then proceeded to his pickup truck, where he called Marcel Caron to report the accident. Marcel Caron instructed him to go to the mine office for help. He immediately went to the mine office where he met Michael Greenway, foreman for Cannelton Industries, Incorporated. Michael Greenway immediately sent emergency medical technicians (EMTs) from Dunn Coal and Dock to the accident scene, then notified Valley Ambulance Service by telephone.

Coy McNeal and James Asbury were the first company EMTs to arrive at the accident scene. They immediately started CPR and were later joined by Kim Blankenship and Jack Hatfield, who assisted them until Valley Ambulance Service arrived and assumed first-aid responsibilities. Valley Paramedics, while in contact with the hospital emergency room doctor via CB radio, were given permission to stop CPR. The victim was transported to the State Medical Examiner's Office in Charleston, West Virginia, where he was examined and pronounced dead on arrival by Assistant Medical Examiner, Dr. Sabet.

The only person to actually hear or observe the accident was Gerald Royer. He is a native Canadian and returned to his home in St. James, West Quebec, Canada, before he could be formally interviewed. Michael Caron, vice president of M. G. C., Inc., stated that Royer refused to return to the United States and is no longer employed by M. G. C., Inc.


The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) was notified at 11:00 a.m. on June 2, 1995, that a serious accident had occurred. MSHA personnel arrived at the mine about 11:45 a.m. A 103(k) Order was issued to ensure the health and safety of the miners until the accident investigation was completed.

MSHA and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training jointly conducted an investigation with the assistance of mine management personnel, the miners, and representatives of the miners.

All parties were briefed by mine personnel as to the circumstances surrounding the accident. A discussion was held with everyone available who had knowledge of the accident. Representatives of all parties traveled to the accident scene, where a thorough examination was conducted. Photographs, sketches, and relevant measurements were taken at the accident site.

Interviews of individuals known to have direct knowledge of the facts surrounding the accident were conducted at Cannelton Industries' conference room on June 6, 1995, at 9:00 a.m. Interviews of M. G. C., Inc. employees were conducted on June 12, 1995, at 9:00 a.m. Due to most of the employees being French speaking Canadians, a French interpreter was utilized at these interviews.

The physical portion of the investigation was completed on June 15, 1995, and the 103(k) Order was terminated.



Records indicated that hazard training had not been given either by the contractor or the production operator in accordance with Part 48. These violations were cited during a subsequent spot inspection.

Physical Factors

  1. The victim had been working for M. C. G., Inc., only 6 months prior to the accident.

  2. The victim had been clearing trees and brush on the mine site at Dunn Coal and Dock, No. 1 mine, for 6 to 8 weeks.

  3. On the day of the fatal accident, the sky was overcast, and it had been raining that morning.

  4. The tree being cut at the time of the accident was 50 feet in length and 20 inches in diameter.

  5. The base of the dead tree that had fallen into the tree being cut was located 20 feet 4 inches from the base of the tree that was cut.

  6. The dead tree was approximately 45 feet in length.

  7. The victim apparently did not examine the tree line behind him before cutting the tree.

  8. The tree line was covered with heavy, dense foliage which camouflaged the dead tree.

  9. Two tree cutters were used to clear the trees; they were usually spaced 300 feet apart.

  10. Most of each worker's vision was obstructed due to foliage on the trees and brush.

  11. The only time during the shift that the workers would meet was at lunch time.

  12. All four workers were from Quebec, Canada.


The accident and resultant injury occurred because the victim was not aware of the dead tree entangled in the branches of the tree he was cutting. When the live tree being cut fell, the dead tree also fell and pushed the victim into the live tree causing fatal, crushing injuries.


There were no violations of 30 CFR observed that contributed to this accident.

Respectfully submitted by:

Jerry E. Sumpter
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by:

Ronald O. Dunbar
Assistant District Manager

Earnest C. Teaster, Jr.
District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB95C18]