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NO. 3 MINE (I. D. NO. 15-16993)

OCTOBER 29, 1996





On Tuesday, October 29, 1996, at approximately 1:50 p.m., a roof fall accident occurred on the active pillar section (002-0 MMU) of Kiah Creek Mining Co., No. 3 Mine. Darren Keith Bartley, a 25 year old miner with seven years mining experience, was fatally injured in the accident. Bartley had been employed at this operation for three years as a shuttle car operator.

The accident occurred while Bartley was tramming a Joy 21SC shuttle car to the continuous miner located at the right pillar block in the No. 5 entry. A rock measuring approximately 50" wide by 60" long, and 2 3/4" - 4" thick, fell from the mine roof striking Bartley in the abdomen which resulted in fatal injuries.

The accident occurred because management failed to adequately support the mine roof in the No. 5 Entry. Two resin-grouted bolts with missing plates and heads were located in the area where the roof fell on the victim.


The Kiah Creek Mining Co., No. 3 Mine, is located approximately two miles off U.S. 23 on Rob Fork near Virgie, Pike County, Kentucky. The principal officers are Todd Kiscaden- president and person in charge of health and safety , Doug Mullins - manager of mines, and Alfred Hopkins -superintendent. The mine is developed into the No. 2 Elkhorn Coalbed by three drift openings. The active "supersection" consisting of the 001-0 and 002-0 mechanized mining unit (MMU), is located approximately 1500 feet inby the mine portals.

The mine employs 46 persons, (42 underground and 4 on the surface), six days per week on two production and one maintenance shift, and produces approximately 1400 tons daily. The coal ranges in height from 40 to 50 inches. The mine has two producing MMU's on one "supersection" using two continuous mining machines and five shuttle cars. The immediate roof strata consists of laminated shale up to 17 inches in thickness. The main roof consists of sandstone in excess of 10 feet in thickness. The mine roof was supported during advance mining using 42-inch resin-grouted roof bolts. Wooden posts were used as supplementary supports exclusively during retreat mining. Coal is transported from the section dumping point to the surface via belt conveyors, and then loaded into trucks for transportation to a rail loading facility.

The last Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) health and safety inspection was completed August 16, 1996.


On the day of the accident, the production crew entered the mine at 6:00 a.m. Work proceeded normally with pillar mining on the 002-0 MMU under the supervision of Reginald Bates, section foreman, until about noon when Bates left the mine due to a doctor's appointment. At that time, Donald Pauley, section foreman for the adjacent 001-0 MMU, assumed supervision of both MMUs. Four 40-foot x 40-foot pillar blocks had been mined during the shift and the first cut was being mined in the fifth pillar block. At approximately 1:50 p.m., Mark Tackett, continuous miner helper, noticed that the shuttle car operated by Darren Bartley was stopped in the No. 5 entry one crosscut outby the continuous miner. Tackett went to see if there was a problem and upon arrival at the shuttle car, observed Bartley pinned in the operator's compartment by a roof fall. Bartley was conscious and asked Tackett to back the shuttle car up and get the rock off of him. The rock was too large for Tackett to lift alone and he signaled for help. Barry Barnette, Sr., Preston Cantrell, and Ricky Potter arrived at the scene and assisted Tackett in lifting the rock off of Bartley. The men lifted Bartley out of the operator's compartment and placed him on the mine floor. Donnie Branham, an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), who was on the adjacent 001-0 MMU, was called to the accident site. Branham arrived at the scene and immediately began first-aid. One of the men called the surface informing Alfred Hopkins, mine superintendent, of the accident. Hopkins called for an ambulance and instructed Michael Cantrell, EMT, to go underground to the accident site. Cantrell traveled to the accident site and assisted Branham in administering first-aid. The victim was placed on a stretcher and transported to the surface in the Mac-8 personnel carrier, accompanied by Cantrell and Branham. Near the surface, Cantrell stated that he could not detect the victim's pulse. One-man Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) was started. Two-man CPR was started upon arrival on the surface at 2:05 p.m. An Accu-Med Ambulance Service ambulance arrived at the scene at 2:15 p.m., and assisted with CPR functions. Bartley was then transported to the Pikeville Methodist Hospital located at Pikeville, Kentucky, where he was pronounced dead at 4:00 p.m., by Ray S. Jones, Pike County Deputy Coroner.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration district office at Pikeville, Kentucky, was notified of the accident at approximately 2:30 p.m., by Doug Mullins, Mine Manager. MSHA personnel were dispatched to the mine and arrived at approximately 3:30 p.m., MSHA personnel met with Kentucky Department of Mines and Minerals personnel and began an investigation.


The investigation revealed the following factors relevant to the occurrence of the accident:
  1. There were no eyewitnesses to the accident.

  2. The accident occurred approximately 1500 feet underground on the active pillar section (002-0 MMU) in the No. 5 Entry. There was no evidence that pillar mining had transferred overriding or excessive weight on the pillar blocks outby the line of pillar blocks being mined at the time of the accident on the active section.

  3. The rock that fell on the victim was approximately 50 inches wide, 60 inches long, and ranged from 2 3/4 to 4 inches thick.

  4. At the area of the accident, two roof bolts were observed with the roof- bolt heads and bearing plates missing. Two additional roof bolts and bearing plates were observed dislodged at the accident scene. The two bolts with no bolt heads had visible rust where the bolt head was missing. Mining equipment during advance mining had apparently sheared the heads of the roof bolts. The undulations in the mine floor contributed to the dislodging and shearing of the roof bolts at the accident scene. Sheared-off and dislodged roof bolts were observed in other areas of the mine outby the active section. Violations were issued for these areas outby the section on a separate spot (CAA) inspection.

  5. The preshift-onshift examination record book did not indicate that any hazardous conditions in the area. The record book indicated that the last preshift examination prior to the accident was conducted between 5:20 a.m. and 5:50 a.m., on the same date by Charles Mullins, maintenance foreman.

  6. The shuttle car was not equipped with a canopy. The mining height ranged from 40 to 50 inches due to undulations in the mine roof on the section. The mining height at the location of the accident was 41 inches. The supersection (001-0 and 002-0 MMU) was developed by advanced mining beginning in June 1996. Canopies were not installed on equipment during advance mining due to the mining height being under 42 inches.

  7. The death certificate listed the cause of death as hemorrhage due to a punctured femoral artery.


The accident occurred because management failed to adequately support the mine roof in the No.5 Entry. Two resin-grouted bolts with missing plates and heads were located in the area where the roof fell on the victim.


  1. A 103(k) Order of Withdrawal, Number 4006603, was issued on October 29, 1996, in conjunction with the fatal accident investigation to assure the safety of the coal miners until an examination or investigation of the accident scene was completed.

  2. A 104(d)(1) Citation, Number 4006604, was issued for a violation of Title 30 CFR 75.202(a). The mine roof in the No.5 Entry, one break to the left of spad 3597 was inadequately supported. Loose draw rock, and two resin- grouted roof bolts with missing plates and heads were located in the area where the piece of draw rock involved in the accident fell.

  3. A 104(d)(1) Order, Number 4006607, was issued for a violation of Title 30 CFR 75.360. An adequate pre-shift of the No.5 Entry on the 002-0 section was not conducted. The area has visible draw rock (loose) and resin-grouted roof bolts with missing plates and heads. The bolt heads had been missing for some time as evidenced by the presence of extensive rusting on the ends of the broken bolts.

Respectfully submitted by:

Buster Stewart
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector, Roof Control

Approved by:

Carl E. Boone, II
District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB96C30