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COAL MINE FATALITY - On Tuesday, July 29, 1997, an excavator operator was negotiating a sloped wooded area beneath a reclaimed area of a surface mine. The excavator operator's assignment was to bury large rocks as a part of a post-reclamation activity. The excavator became fouled and unbalanced between several large rocks lying both in front and behind the machine, with tracks on one side of the machine on top of one of the large rocks. The counterweight of the machine was positioned down slope and the machine was teetering as the machine operator attempted to grab the earth with the bucket. When the bucket contacted the ground however, the machine tilted backward and rolled downhill about 60 feet to the bottom of the slope. The excavator operator was crushed beneath the machine during the accident.

This is the 20th coal mine fatality in 1997. As of July 29th of last year there had been 19 fatalities. This death is the third classified as MACHINERY in 1997.

Photograph of the Accident Scene

For more information:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon MSHA's Fatal Accident Investigation Report [FTL97C20]