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District 8



Burning Star # 2 (ID No. 11-00610)
Consolidation Coal Company
Deraway-Wells Scrap Processors, Inc.
Contractor ID No. ICZ
Pinckneyville, Perry County, Illinois

December 6, 1995


Steven M. Miller

Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
P.O. Box 418, 501 Busseron Street, Vincennes, Indiana 47591
James K. Oakes, District Manager


Consolidation Coal Company's Burning Star #2 mine is located 5 miles east of Pinckneyville, Perry County, Illinois. This surface mine was opened December 7, 1950, and mined the Herrin No. 6 Coal Seam until May 25, 1995. At the time of the accident the mine employed 18 people who were performing reclamation work on the site. The mine operates one shift, 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., five days per week.

Deraway-Wells Scrap Processors, Inc., contractor I.D. ICZ, of South Charleston, West Virginia, was contracted by Consolidation Coal Company for the demolition and removal of a Marion 5761 shovel and a Bucyrus-Erie 1060 wheel excavator. They employed seven men who were performing cutting operations to dismantle the wheel excavator at the time of the accident.

Principal officials for Burning Star #2 at the time of the accident were:

James P. Peterson.................Mine Superintendent
Robert J. Conte.....................Safety Supervisor

Principal officials for Deraway-Wells Scrap Processors, Inc. at the time of the accident were:

John C. Wells........................President
William S. Deraway...............Vice President/Safety Director/Supervisor

The last completed Safety and Health Inspection (AAA) began on April 5, 1995, and ended on May 5, 1995. Another AAA inspection began on October 23, 1995, and was in progress at the time of the accident.


At 6:30 a.m., December 6, 1995, the shift began under the supervision of William S. Deraway, Vice President of Deraway-Wells Scrap Processors, Inc. The crew of seven men spent the morning cutting up pieces of the 1060 wheel that had already been dropped to the ground. The crew stopped for lunch at 12:00 p.m. Herman Forester, Climber/Burner, and Deraway talked about the cuts Forester would make after lunch. Deraway stated that he and Forester had talked about every cut that was going to be made on this machine prior to the actual work being performed. These particular cuts to the North and South Booms were of great concern to them. Deraway and the crew stated Forester had made all of the previous higher elevation cuts on this machine. Their original plan was to drop the North Boom (stacker end) first and then drop the South Boom (digging ladder gantry end). When it was time to make the cuts to drop the North Boom, Forester told Deraway that he felt more comfortable dropping the South Boom first. Deraway stated that was all right with him because he felt they could drop either boom at this time.

At approximately 12:30 p.m., Deraway instructed Forester to begin moving his torch and hoses up onto the 1060 wheel in preparation to drop the South Boom from the "A" frame structure. This preparation took approximately an hour. Deraway and Brian Pence, Burner/Laborer, helped Forester complete the preparations to make the cuts and Deraway reviewed with Forester the cut sequence to be followed. Between 1:00 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., Forester made the necessary cuts in the conveyor area that would allow the South Boom to fall when it was cut loose from the "A" frame. The men working on the ground were removed from the work area and gathered together northeast of the machine to observe the final cuts being made to the South Boom. Deraway climbed onto a piece of equipment east of the machine to video tape the South Boom when it fell to the ground. From this area, the men and Deraway could see only the cuts being made on the east side of the South Boom. Richard Boggis, a retired maintenance foreman from Consolidation Coal Company, was also video taping the cuts, but from the west side of the machine.

Forester first cut the front H-beam located in the top of the "A" frame and then cut the back H-beam located in the top of the "A" frame almost through. The areas left uncut were referred to as stickers. Deraway stated these stickers were left to keep the boom from twisting when the east side of the boom was cut through. Forester then moved to the east side of the North Boom and cut the front H-beam and the back H-beam located in the top of the "A" frame through.

Deraway and Forester believed that the weight of the South Boom would break the stickers loose on the west side, allowing the South Boom to fall to the ground. When this did not occur, Forester traveled back to the west side of the North Boom. He then cut through the stickers, and the South Boom fell to the ground. When the South Boom hit the ground, the North Boom, to which Forester was secured by a safety belt and tag line system, broke loose from the remaining piece of the "A" frame. When the North Boom fell, Forester was thrown from the North Boom, causing the tag line to fail and allowing him to fall approximately 90 feet. Donald H. Wisely, Ronald A. Keller, and Charles B. Murphy, employees of Consolidation Coal Company and EMT's, immediately began CPR and the Pinckneyville Ambulance Service was called. CPR was continued until Forester was delivered to the hospital at 3:50 p.m. Forester was pronounced dead at 4:00 p.m. from injuries sustained in the fall.


  1. The Bucyrus-Erie 1060 excavating wheel was erected by F&E Erector Company, Inc., of San Antonio, Texas, and put into service on February 20, 1973.

  2. The excavating wheel was moved from the Panther Pit and parked on the east incline of Panther Pit on December 2, 1994.

  3. Consolidation Coal Company contracted Deraway-Wells Scrap Processors, Inc. on October 2, 1995, for the demolition and removal of the excavating wheel and a 5761 Marion shovel.

  4. This was the first time this contractor had attempted demolition of an excavator wheel this size.

  5. William Deraway, Vice President of Deraway-Wells Scrap Processors, Inc. and onsite supervisor, made the decisions as to where and when the cuts would be made based on his experience and a basic diagram of the wheel showing the approximate center of gravity.

  6. Deraway had no structural prints or erection diagrams to indicate the relationships of the structural components.

  7. The "A" frame structure located at the center of the machine contained critical structural joints for both the North and South Booms.

  8. The rigid cap connection at the top of the "A" frame served as the upper connection point for the South Boom. By removing this joint, the South Boom was free to rotate around the lower pinned connection and fall to the ground.

  9. The upper connection point for the North Boom was located approximately 13 feet below the rigid cap and relied on the stability of the intact "A" frame.

  10. The weight of the North Boom was pulling on a connection through the back "A" frame column. The bottom pin and rigid cap connection were designed to withstand that force.

  11. The equilibrium of the system was destroyed when the back of the "A" frame column was cut into just above a connection which was approximately 13 feet below the cap. At that time, the total weight of the North Boom was applied to an unrestrained column member. As this member began to pull free and deform, it broke the shoe tack weld tearing the column just above the next lower gusseted connection about 13 feet down.


The contractor and his employees had limited experience in the demolition of large surface coal extraction equipment, such as the Bucyrus Erie 1060 excavating wheel. The excavating wheel was a complicated designed machine consisting of elaborate steel beam substructures and wire rope cable assemblies. The contractor's demolition method of the excavator was to identify various steel beams and rope assemblies to be cut which would permit large portions of the machine's structure to break away and fall from the machine in a semi-controlled manner.

The direct cause of the accident was that the contractor's demolition method did not take into consideration the relationship of the critical steel structure that should be maintained during each phase of the demolition work. The center "A" frame structure, which was critical to maintaining and holding both the North and South Booms in place, was cut to intentionally cause the collapse of the South Boom. The cutting of the "A" frame structure transferred the entire weight of the North Boom to an unrestrained member of the "A" frame structure and caused the unexpected collapse of the North Boom.


A 103(k) Order No. 4575009 was issued on December 6, 1995, to insure the safety of all workers until the completion of the accident investigation.

Respectfully submitted by:

Steven M. Miller
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by:

David L. Whitcomb
Subdistrict Manager

James K. Oakes
District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB95C42