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Accident Investigation Report
Surface Metal Mine

Fatal Powered Haulage Accident

Hyne Drilling Company
Contractor ID T5Y


Jerritt Canyon Mine
Independence Mining Company
Elko, Elko County, Nevada
ID No. 26-01621

November 18, 1996


Bob Caples
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Mine Safety and Health Administration
Western District
3333 Vaca Valley Parkway, Suite 600
Vacaville, California 95688

Fred M. Hansen
District Manager


Michael E. Stowe, driller's helper, age 38, was fatally injured about 6:15 p.m. on
November 18, 1996, when the flatbed truck he was riding in rolled over. Stowe had two years of mining experience, the last four weeks at this property. Richard Rymers, water truck driver, age 37, was also injured in the accident. Rymers had one and one-half years of mining experience and had worked at this property four weeks. Both men had been trained as required by 30 CFR Part 48.

Rod Cody, loss control supervisor for Independence Mining Company, notified MSHA of the accident at 8:28 p.m. on November 18, 1996. An investigation was started the following day.

Jerritt Canyon was an open pit, multiple bench gold mine located 45 miles north of Elko, Elko County, Nevada. It was owned and operated by Independence Mining Company. After the gold ore was drilled and blasted, it was transported by haul trucks to the crusher for crushing and sizing. It was then transferred by conveyor to the mill or transported by truck to the cyanide leach pad for processing. The mine had 365 employees working three 12-hour overlapping shifts.

Hyne Drilling Company was contracted to conduct core drilling on the mine property. The company had six employees working two shifts, twelve hours a day, five days a week. The principal operating offical was Raymond Hyne, owner.

The last regular inspection at this operation was completed on March 1, 1996.


The 2-1/2 ton truck involved in the accident was a 1994 International, four-wheel drive, Model 4800. It had an eight cylinder diesel engine and a Spicer S90 FE manual transmission. The transmission had six "high" and "low" range forward gears and could be placed in reverse in either range. The brake system was air over hydraulic. The truck was equipped with a dual-wheel rear axle and an 18-foot aluminum flatbed. Snow chains had been installed on all wheels. In addition to the standard lighting, three back-up lights had been installed to improve night illumination.

An empty 2000-gallon water tank, measuring four by four by sixteen feet and constructed of 3/16-inch steel plating, was anchored to the truck bed by three 3/8-inch log chains and chain boomers. The water tank remained chained to the truck bed and probably prevented the operator's cab from being crushed. A rack for core drill pipe was affixed to the top of the tank.

The late model truck was well maintained. Lights, brakes, steering, drive train, and wheels were inspected during the investigation and found in good condition. Seat belts were provided but were not used at the time of the accident.

The accident occurred near a 30-degree curve, between the ninth and tenth switchbacks. The truck was traveling a 3-mile access road used by drill crews, company engineers and geologists. The 21-foot wide, single lane, dirt road declined at a 6 to 8 percent grade with thirteen 145-degree to 175-degree switchbacks. Vehicles larger than pickup trucks were unable to make the sharper turns. At these locations trucks were driven to the apex of the v-shaped switchback and then backed to the next turn. The road was equipped with gates, warning signs, and reflective delineators. The truck driver had driven this road frequently during daylight and night-time hours.

The weather was partly cloudy with light to moderate winds and temperatures of 20 to 25 degrees. It had rained and snowed the day prior to the accident and the road was wet and muddy with patches of snow.


Michael Stowe, driller's helper (victim), Richard Reymers, water truck driver (injured), and Michael Moore, driller/leadman, started work at 1:00 p.m. on November 18, 1996. They began the shift earlier than their normal 7:00 p.m. starting time in order to relocate their drilling equipment to a new site before anticipated severe weather conditions could affect the move.

At the start of the shift the crew unloaded core drill rods that had previously been delivered to the new site. About 3:00 p.m., the men started out for Cow Canyon, the previous drill site located on Independence Mining Company property, to load more equipment. Reymers was driving the International truck and Stowe was his passenger. Moore followed in a 1/2-ton utility vehicle.

About 6:15 p.m., approximately one mile from the Cow Canyon drill site, Reymers was backing down a section of the road with the elevated side to his right. The truck traveled approximately 750 feet between switchbacks and negotiated a 30 degree curve. Reymers did not correct his direction of travel after exiting the curve and backed over the edge of the roadway. The truck overturned and rolled about 140 feet down the 70 degree slope. It came to rest upside down about 75 feet below the point where it had left the road. An examination of tire tracks did not indicate an application of the brakes before the truck left the roadway.

After the truck came to rest, Reymers called to Stowe but got no response. He then turned off the engine and crawled through the driver's window, which was almost at ground level. Reymers found a flashlight and checked on Stowe. Determining that he was having difficulty breathing, Reymers rolled him onto his side. He then pointed the flashlight up the hill in an attempt to alert Moore to the situation.

Moore arrived at the accident site five or ten minutes after the roll over. Seeing debris on the road and the light from below, he stopped his vehicle and climbed down to the truck. Determining that assistance was needed, he left Reymers with Stowe, at about 7:00 p.m., and drove to Independence Mining Company's office facility.

After reporting the incident to mine company personnel, Moore returned to the accident site with an emergency medical technician. Moore then transported the injured Reymers to the mine security gate while the EMT treated Stowe. Rescue personnel arrived and removed Stowe from the truck at about 8:00 p.m. He was also transported to the security gate.

A waiting ambulance transported both men to the hospital in Elko, Nevada. Reymers remained in the hospital until his release on November 20. Stowe was transferred to a hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah where he died November 21 due to complications arising from craniocerebral injuries.


Several factors contributed to the occurrence of this accident. The turn radius at the switchbacks was not sufficient for larger vehicles, which necessitated backing them on alternating sections of the roadway; reduced visibility is inherent to backing large vehicles; and the presence of snow and ice on the roadway due to inclement weather at the time of the accident. Failure to wear seat belts may have contributed to the severity of the accident.


Order No. 3910443
Issued on November 19,1996 under provisions of Section 103(k) of the Mine Act:

On November 18, 1996, a passenger was fatally injured and the driver slightly injured when a 2-1/2 ton International truck over-traveled the outer edge of a mine access road. This order was issued to insure the safety of persons until affected areas of the mine could be returned to normal operation. The order was terminated on November 26, 1996 when the truck was removed from the accident site.

Citation No. 7951409
Issued on November 26, 1996 under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.9101:

On November 18, 1996, a passenger was fatally injured at this operation when the driver of a 2-1/2 ton International truck backed over the edge of a drill access road after negotiating a 30 degree curve between switchbacks and rolled down a 70 degree slope. The driver received minor injuries in the accident. There was no evidence the brakes were applied prior to backing over the edge of the roadway.

The citation was terminated on November 26, 1996 after the operator instructed his employees on proper mobile equipment operation while negotiating narrow access roads.

Citation No. 7951410
Issued on November 26, 1996 under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.14130(g):

On November 18, 1996, a passenger was fatally injured and the driver slightly injured when a 2-1/2 ton International truck over-traveled the outer edge of a mine access road. Neither occupant was wearing provided seat belts at the time of the accident.

The citation was terminated on November 26, 1996 after the operator instructed his employees on the requirements for using seat belts in trucks and other mobile equipment.

/s/ Bob Caples
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by: Fred M. Hansen, District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB96M43]