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Southeastern District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

Accident Investigation Report
Surface Nonmetal Mine

Fatal Slip or Fall of Person Accident

Scott Pit
Cousins' Aggregate
Nicholson, Hancock County, Mississippi
Mine I.D. No. 22-00679

September 10, 1996


Willard J. Graham
Supervisory Mine Inspector


Benny W. Lara
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office
Mine Safety and Health Administration
135 Gemini Circle, Suite 212
Birmingham, Alabama 35209

Martin Rosta
District Manager


Joseph L. Boudreaux, Jr., laborer, age 45, drowned at about 8:30 a.m., on September 10, 1996, when he fell from the dredge's discharge pipe line into 20 feet of water. Boudreaux had about three months mining experience, all at this operation. The victim had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR Part 48.

MSHA learned of the accident by an anonymous phone call to the Denham Springs, Louisiana, Field Office at 9:30 a.m. on September 11, 1996. Donald Fisk, president, notified the Southeastern District Office of the accident by a telephone call at about
3:30 p.m. on September 11, 1996. An investigation was started the same day.

The Scott Pit, a sand and gravel operation, owned and operated by Cousins' Aggregate, was located off highway 607, 1.8 miles East of Nicholson, Hancock County, Mississippi. The principal operating official was Donald Fisk, President. The dredge and plant were operated one, 8-10 hour shift per day, 5-6 days per week. Three persons were employed at the mine site.

Sand and gravel was mined from a two acre pond by a ten-inch suction dredge and material was pumped to an elevated screening plant. Construction of the dredge and plant began in February 1996 and dredging began on an intermittent basis in August 1996. The operation was still in the set-up and testing mode when the accident occurred. Small stockpiles of sand and gravel were observed at the mine site.

MSHA became aware of this plant's existence as a result of the fatal accident. This operation had not been inspected by MSHA prior to the fatality.


The pond, where the accident occurred, covered an area of approximately two acres and varied in depth. The 10-inch pipeline from the dredge to the screening plant measured
220 feet. The pipeline extended 84 feet across the water and was supported about
28 inches above the water by four floating pontoons.

A flat bottom aluminum boat was provided for access to the dredge. It measured 12 feet long, 3 feet 8 inches wide at the bow, and 4 feet 5 inches wide at the stern. The boat was located on the pond bank where the dredge discharge line exited the pond. Water had been leaking into the bottom of the boat and the stern was inundated with water. No Coast Guard certification could be found on the boat. Because of the condition of the boat, it was common practice to access the dredge by walking the pipeline. Employees stated that this was usually done without life jackets being worn, even though they were provided.

It could not be determined if the victim knew how to swim.


On the day of the accident Joseph Boudreaux Jr., victim, reported for work at 7:45 a.m., his normal reporting time. He met John Caldwell, superintendent, and Alex Parker, dredge operator and the three men discussed the pending job of removing a worn shaker screen bearing. About 8:00 a.m., Caldwell, Boudreaux and Parker climbed up to the work deck of the screening plant to change the bearing. A short time later, Caldwell instructed Boudreaux to go under the screening plant to get a sledgehammer. Boudreaux returned to the ground and tied the sledgehammer onto a rope for Caldwell to hoist to the work deck. Boudreaux remained on the ground.

Caldwell and Parker used the sledgehammer and a pry bar in an attempt to remove the defective bearing. Realizing they needed another pry bar to exert pressure from both sides of the bearing, Caldwell yelled to Boudreaux to get another pry bar which was on the dredge.

Boudreaux walked to the edge of the pond, past the boat, and got on the pipeline.

Moments later, Caldwell and Parker heard a cry for help. They looked toward the dredge and saw Boudreaux in the water, struggling to stay afloat. Immediately, both men climbed down the work deck and ran toward the pond. Caldwell went to the boat and struggled to dump the water that had partially filled it. When he saw Boudreaux go under water and not resurface, he went to his pick-up truck and called the Pearl River Sheriff's Office.

Parker, in the meantime, walked the discharge pipe to the dredge where he obtained a 10-foot section of �-inch PVC pipe. He went back to where he last saw Boudreaux and began pushing the pipe through the water in hopes Boudreaux would grab the pipe.

Approximately 20 minutes after Caldwell made the telephone call, deputies from the Sheriff's office arrived at the scene of the accident. A dive team was summoned to the property by the Sheriff's deputies and Boudreaux's body was recovered in about 20 feet of water. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the county coroner. The cause of death was asphyxia due to drowning.


The direct cause of the accident was the failure to provide a safe means of access to the dredge. The unsafe condition of the boat likely encouraged employees to use the 10-inch pipeline to gain access to the dredge. Failure to wear personal flotation devices, where there was danger of falling into the water, contributed to the severity of the accident.


Citation No. 4446089
Issued on September 12, 1996, under the provisions of section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of section 103(j) of the Act and 30 CFR 50.10.

A fatal accident occurred at this operation at approximately 8:30 hours on September 10, 1996. MSHA was not immediately notified of the accident. MSHA became aware of the fatal accident via a telephone call, which was received at the Denham Springs, Louisiana field office on September 11, 1996 at 9:39 a.m.

This citation was terminated on the same day, after MSHA went over the Part 50 reporting requirements with the operator.

Citation No. 4446093
Issued on September 12, 1996, under provisions of Section 104(d)1 of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.11001.

A fatal accident occurred at this operation at approximately 8:30 hours on September 10, 1996, when an employee was using an unsafe access route to the dredge boat. The victim was walking the 10 inch discharge pipeline. The normal work practice would be to use the provided 12 foot long Jon boat. The Jon boat wasn't properly maintained. The stern section was filled with water due to holes in the boat's structure. Management officials and employees admitted they have walked the pipeline. This is an unwarrantable failure.

This citation was terminated on October 2, 1996. The unsafe access was discussed with the supervisor and employees. The supervisor and employees signed a statement indicating they understand the hazards of walking the pipeline. Additionally, a sign was posted warning people to keep off the pipeline.

Order No. 4446094
Issued on September 12, 1996, under the provisions of section 104(d)1 of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.15020.

A fatal accident occurred at this operation at approximately 8:30 a.m. on
September 10, 1996, when an employee was walking on the 10 inch discharge pipeline. The employee fell into the water. The victim was not wearing a life jacket. Management officials and company employees admitted that they have walked the pipeline and did not always wear life jackets. This is an unwarrantable failure.

This citation was terminated on October 2, 1996. Personnel were re-instructed to use their life jacket when working around water. In addition, a statement was signed by the employees. The statement went over the requirements of wearing a life jacket where there is a danger of falling into water.

Order No. 4446095
Issued on September 12, 1996, under the provisions of section 104(d)1 of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.14100(b).

A fatal accident occurred at this operation, at approximately 8:30 a.m. on
September 10, 1996, when an employee attempted to walk a 10 inch discharge pipeline to the dredge. Defects affecting safety were not corrected in a timely manner on the 12 foot Jon boat used to travel to and from the dredge. There were several holes in the boat's structure causing the boat to gradually fill with water. According to the superintendent, the stern end was inundated with water. Because the holes were not repaired, the employee may have chosen to walk the pipeline instead of dealing with the inundated boat. The employee was en route to the dredge to retrieve a pry bar, when he fell into the water and drowned. Vice-President, Ron Fisk, was aware of the leak and he estimated it was about three gallons of water accumulation per work shift. This is an unwarrantable failure.

This citation was terminated September 16, 1996. The leaks were repaired in the boats structure.

/s/ Willard J. Graham
Supervisory Mine Inspector

/s/ Benny W. Lara
Mine Safety & Health Inspector

Approved By: Martin Rosta, District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB96M34]