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District 3

(Surface of Underground Mine)


Humphrey No. 7 Mine (I.D. No. 46-01453)
Consolidation Coal Company
Maidsville, Monongalia County, West Virginia

October 27, 1996


John D. Mehaulic, Jr.
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector


Ronald L. Wyatt
Mining Engineer, Roof Control


William L. Sperry
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector (Electrical)

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
Coal Mine Safety and Health, District 3
5012 Mountaineer Mall, Morgantown, West Virginia 26505
Timothy J. Thompson, District Manager


On Sunday, October 27, 1996, at approximately 3:55 a.m., a fatal accident occurred at the Maidsville Portal surface area of the Humphrey No. 7 underground coal mine, Consolidation Coal Company, I.D. No. 46-01453.

David L. Smith, Jr., Supply Motorman, received fatal injuries when the 50-ton locomotive he was operating struck a low-profile carrier hauling a longwall shield that was protruding toward the victim. Smith was recovered from the operator's compartment of the locomotive by Consolidation Coal Company employees and CPR was started immediately. Dr. Hugh Lindsay, Monongalia County Medical Examiner, confirmed Smith's death at 5:25 a.m. at the accident site. Monongalia EMS transported the victim to the Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia.


The Humphrey No. 7 mine is operated by Consolidation Coal Company, and is located in Maidsville, Monongalia County, West Virginia. The mine is opened by one drift and 12 shafts into the 80-inch Pittsburgh coal seam. Employment is provided for 397 persons working underground and 82 persons working on the surface.

The mine produces coal three shifts a day, five days per week. This mine currently utilizes a longwall section which produces 14,000 tons of raw coal daily. Coal is transported through the mine by a belt conveyor system then transferred into 20-ton mine cars. Utilizing a track-trolley haulage system, 50- and 38-ton locomotives are used to transport the loaded cars to the surface. This haulage system is also used to transport employees, supplies, and equipment in and out of the mine. Typically mining equipment and supplies are transported into and out of the mine on the main track haulage road using mine supply cars, flat cars, and low-profile carriers. These haulage supply cars are pulled using trolley locomotives that are commonly classified as 12-, 18-, 20-, 38-, and 50-ton locomotives.

Once the coal is processed, it travels via a coal conveyor belt to the Humphrey No. 7 Mine's preparation plant river loadout facility and/or rail loadout facility.

Ventilation is induced by 10 exhaust fans located on the surface. During the previous quarter, the mine liberated an average of 4,350,361 cubic feet of methane every twenty four hours.

A regular Safety and Health Inspection of the mine was in progress at the time of the accident. The last regular Safety and Health Inspection was completed on September 27, 1996.

The company officials are listed below:
William Karis...............................President
Wes McDonald...........................Vice President
Robert Omear.............................General Superintendent
Charles Costelli...........................Safety Supervisor


On Saturday, October 26, 1996, at approximately 11:00 p.m., the shift began for two motor crews attempting to complete four separate equipment moves. One crew, consisting of Edward Fox, Motorman; David L. Smith, Jr., Motorman/victim; David Huffman, Electrician; and Kenny Rodriquez, Foreman, was scheduled to move a trip consisting of five longwall shields and a longwall high pressure pump from the 16-East Section to the surface area of the Maidsville Portal.

Fox and Smith entered the mine at approximately 11:00 p.m. at the Bowers Portal. Fox and Smith then traveled underground from Bowers Portal to the 16-East Section aboard the No. 43-A 38-ton locomotive. At approximately 11:00 p.m., Rodriquez and Huffman entered Bowers Portal and proceeded to the 16-East Section, in separate track vehicles.

The No. 43-A locomotive, being operated by Fox, was coupled to the trip of equipment and became the lead locomotive. Smith, operating a 12-ton supply locomotive, became the trailing locomotive.

Huffman and Rodriquez proceeded ahead of the equipment move trip, from the 16-East Section toward Bowers Portal at approximately 12:05 a.m., October 27, 1996. Rodriquez stopped near the 3-East junction. He then called, via mine telephone, Delmar Hlatky, General Laborer, located on the surface at Bowers Portal, to prepare a 50-ton locomotive to be utilized in the equipment move. Hlatky entered the mine and prepared the No. 44 50-ton locomotive, for service. The equipment move trip proceeded to the Bowers Portal area. The equipment move crew stopped outby the Bowers Portal switch. Smith then exchanged the supply locomotive he had been operating as a trailing locomotive for the No. 44 50-ton locomotive.

At this time, Rodriquez stated that he questioned Smith regarding the location of the operator's compartment being near the canopy end of the longwall shield that extended beyond the end of the low-profile carrier. Rodriquez also stated that he suggested to Smith that perhaps he should use another locomotive. According to Rodriquez, Smith had indicated to him that it did not make any difference, the location of the operator's compartment of the other available 50-ton locomotive was identical to the No. 44 locomotive.

The move proceeded from Bowers Portal switch to the top of the No. 1 Haulage track. Paul Dean, Dispatcher, delayed the equipment move for approximately two hours at this location to repair a broken rail. The dispatcher gave Rodriquez clearance at approximately 3:20 a.m., to continue the move from the top of the No. 1 haulage track to the surface area at the Maidsville Portal.

According to Fox, lead motorman, while enroute to the surface, at approximately the 15+00 block along the main line haulage track he failed to see the lights of the trailing locomotive operated by Smith. At his time, Fox stated he called, via trolley phone, to Smith regarding the nature and location of his trouble and that Smith replied that he was taking down some trolley wire guarding. Fox further stated he continued with the equipment move to the surface and stopped at the No. 2 supply yard switch.

Rodriquez parked his jeep and was telling the motorman where to park the trip when the locomotive operated by Smith exited the portal and collided with the end of the trip located approximately 181 feet from the mine portal. Rodriquez and Fox, hearing the collision, proceeded toward the end of the trip. Upon arrival at the accident site, the operator's compartment of the No. 44 locomotive was located under the canopy of the longwall shield. Rodriquez instructed Fox to pull the trip away from the No. 44 locomotive to remove Smith from the operator's compartment.

Huffman, who was near the area, was made aware of the accident and went to the outside shop to get additional help. Huffman passed Dennis L. Mitchell, Foreman, and informed Mitchell of the accident. Mitchell immediately started toward the accident scene to provide assistance. Rodriquez, Fox, and Mitchell removed Smith from the operator's compartment of the locomotive and began CPR.

Two ambulances from the Monongalia County Emergency Medical Services and a unit from the Granville Volunteer Fire Department arrived at the accident site. Upon arrival at the scene, the Monongalia County Emergency Medical Services crews provided medical assistance to the victim. At 4:49 a.m., Dr. Morandi, via radio from the West Virginia University Hospital Medical Command Center, pronounced Smith dead and instructed the crew of Medic Squad No. 63 to stop resuscitation measures on the victim. Dr. Hugh Lindsay, Monongalia County Medical Examiner, arrived a short time later and confirmed Smith's death at 5:25 a.m.


  1. The mine has a total of eighteen 50-ton trolley locomotives which have the operator's compartment on the outby side. This comprises the entire fleet of 50-ton locomotives.

  2. The mine has a total of seven 38-ton trolley locomotives and two have the operators' compartment inby.

  3. The underground main track haulage roadway is approximately 13.3 miles from 16 East Section to Maidsville Drift Portal with an ascending grade of 2 percent from 30+00 block to the portal.

  4. The canopy of the longwall shield being transported on the last low-profile carrier extended 48 inches beyond the carrier toward the trailing locomotive.

  5. Fox, Lead Motorman, who had stopped the trip on the surface at the No. 2 switch, was standing in the operator's compartment with his back to the portal. He was discussing with Rodriquez, Foreman, where to park the trip in the supply yard. Rodriquez was standing near the lead locomotive at the time of the accident. There were no eyewitnesses to the fatal accident.

  6. Information obtained during the investigation revealed that the victim was an experienced locomotive operator, and the records indicate all required training was up-to-date.

  7. The locomotive operated by the victim was identified as No. 44 and designated by mine management as a 50-ton locomotive. The locomotive identification tag indicated that this unit was manufactured by General Electric, Serial Number 44349, Class LME-2C2C50, 250 volt direct current, DBP 25000, MPH 10.

  8. A review of the record of electrical examination provided by the operator indicated that the No. 44 locomotive was examined weekly. The last examination was made on October 25, 1996, and no defects were listed in the record book.

  9. An examination of the No. 44 locomotive after the accident revealed that the locomotive controller was in the tenth point of dynamic braking. The trolley pole was off the trolley wire and secured. The electric control switch was in the off position. The air brake was in the released position and the manual, hand-operated park brake was fully set. The mode of operation of the No. 44 locomotive at the time of the accident could not be determined. During the investigation none of the witnesses could remember who set the brakes or secured the trolley pole.

  10. The examination of the No. 44 locomotive did not reveal any deficiencies that would have caused or contributed to the accident. A functional test of the No. 44 locomotive was conducted. The locomotive was repeatedly operated at varying speeds through the area where the accident occurred. The locomotive operated and stopped safely when functional brake tests were conducted.

  11. The automatic coupler of the No. 44 locomotive impacted the low-profile carrier, resulting in a deflection measuring 3/8 inch deep by 1 inch in width and 3 inches in height to the 1 inch structure steel plate of the carrier. Also, the rear wheel of the carrier near the point of impact and opposite the trolley wire was torn from the carrier. Upon impact, the locomotive and carrier derailed. The locomotive wheel opposite the trolley wire on the operating compartment end was off the rail. Damage to the windshield frame was sustained as a result of contacting the canopy of the longwall shield. A round draw bar, 4 inches in diameter by 12 feet long, was used to connect two low-profile carriers in the trip was severely damaged because of the impact of the No. 44 locomotive. Evidence at the accident site on the top of the rail, opposite the trolley wire, showed shiny rail, "white steel", marks where the wheels spun after impact at the four wheel locations, and visual observation of the rails from the portal to the low-profile carrier did not show skid marks.

  12. The investigation revealed the track haulage consisted of 85-pound rail with 42-1/2 inch gauge, joined with bolted splice bars, spiked to wooden ties, and ballasted. When the No. 44 locomotive collided into the last low-profile carrier, the impact caused the wheels on the operator's compartment side opposite the trolley wire to bend the rail opposite the trolley wire creating a gauge of 44-3/8 inches.

  13. Illumination was provided in the work area near the switch and portal. Also, lighting was provided on the No. 44 locomotive and was functional when tested.

  14. Witnesses interviewed stated fog was not present and the night was clear. A light rain drizzle occurred early in the shift.

  15. The No. 2 supply yard switch is approximately 311 feet from the Maidsville Portal drift opening.

  16. A permissible trip light, or other approved device such as reflectors approved by the District Manager, was not provided on the rear of this trip. A non-contributing violation was issued for this condition.

  17. The interior of the operator's compartment of No. 44 locomotive was found undamaged, clean and free of debris, and ample space provided.


The fatality occurred when the 50-ton trolley locomotive, operated by the victim, collided with the last low-profile equipment carrier of the equipment move. Contributing to the cause of the accident was the operator's compartment of the locomotive positioned adjacent to the protruding longwall shield while operating as a tail locomotive for the trip. During the collision, David L. Smith, Jr., received fatal head injuries.


  1. A 103(k) Order No. 3500570 was issued to the operator to assure the health and safety of the miners until an investigation and examination deemed the area safe to work.

  2. A 107(a) Order of Withdrawal No. 3322625, was issued for a condition and/or practice which occurred when the operator's compartment of the No. 44 locomotive was positioned adjacent to protruding equipment or material while operating as a tail locomotive for a trip. As a result of the interviews conducted with motormen, it was indicated that locomotives had been previously positioned in this manner.

  3. A Safeguard No. 3322627 was issued under the provisions of 30 CFR 75.1403 as it was observed that the operator's compartment of the No. 44 locomotive was positioned adjacent to the equipment or material being transported, representing a hazard to the operator of the locomotive.

Respectfully submitted by:

John D. Mehaulic, Jr.
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Ronald L. Wyatt
Mining Engineer, Roof Control

William L. Sperry
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector (Electrical)

Approved by:

Timothy J. Thompson
District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB96C29