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South Central District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

Accident Investigation Report
Surface Nonmetal Mine
(Crushed Stone)

Fatal Powered Haulage Accident

Roark Creek Quarry Co.
Plant #1
Lanagan, McDonald County, Missouri
I.D. No. 23-02109

April 9, 1997


Ronald M. Mesa, Special Investigator
Daniel J. Haupt, Supervisory Special Investigator

Originating Office
South Central District Office
1100 Commerce Street, Room 4C50
Dallas, Texas 75242-0499

Doyle D. Fink
District Manager


Christopher King, truck driver, age 49, was fatally injured at approximately 10:45 a.m. on April 9, 1997 when he was engulfed by the material inside the number 1 surge bin. King had a total of thirty days mining experience all at this operation. He had received two days of new miner safety training and task training in the tasks performed.

Terry Wilson, president notified the MSHA Rolla, Missouri field office of the accident at 12:30 p.m. on April 9, 1997. An investigation was started the same day.

Plant #1, owned and operated by Roark Creek Quarry Co., was located on County Road EE, East of Lanagan, McDonald County, Missouri. The principal operating official was Terry Wilson, president. The mine normally operated one, twelve-hour shift per day, five days a week. Nine persons were employed.

This was a single bench limestone mine. The limestone was drilled and blasted and moved by front-end loader to the crushing plant where it was crushed, screened and fed into surge bins. Haul trucks then moved the material from the surge bins to stockpiles. The finished products were used in road and general industry construction.

The last regular inspection was completed on January 8, 1997, and another regular inspection was conducted after the fatal accident investigation.


The accident occurred at the number 1 surge bin, located south of the main plant. The bin, serial number 9501022, was a Grace 20 Cubic Yard Portable Surge Bin manufactured by Grace Machinery and Fabrication Company, Springfield, Missouri and was purchased new by Roark in 1995.

The surge bin was fabricated from 3/16" mild steel and had a square opening at the top which measured 10'x10'. The overall height of the bin was 10'9". Access to the top of the bin was provided by a fixed 7' steel ladder to a 27"x32" work platform that was mounted on the side of the bin 38" below the top.

One half inch base material was fed into the center of the bin by the number 1 feed conveyor belt. The head pulley section was mechanically mounted to the bin 4 feet above the top of the bin. The belt was powered by a 20 HP, 3 phase, 480 volt electric motor and was controlled by the plant operator from the plant control room.

The material was stored in the bin until conveyed to Euclid R-22 haul trucks by way of the 25' long discharge conveyor belt. The conveyor was powered by a 20 HP, 3 phase 480 volt electric motor that was controlled by the truck driver operating a start/stop switch located on its' frame. At the time of the accident the discharge conveyor was running with material on it.

The truck drivers were required by the operator to climb into the bin 1 to 4 times per day to obtain a material sample for the State of Missouri. The state used the samples to assure that the material met state gradation specifications. Samples were collected in a galvanized sheet metal can which measured 17"x8"x4", and had 2 handles located at one end, one extending 3" and the other 7" from the end of the can.

The drivers walked across the material in the bin to obtain the sample from the number 1 feed belt as it fed into the bin. The number 1 feed conveyor belt was running at the time of the accident. The flow of material from the belt was interrupted when a rock lodged in the tail pulley of the impact feed conveyor belt stopping the flow of material through the plant.

During the investigation, the number 1 feed conveyor belt and the number 1 discharge conveyor belt electrical circuits and components were examined and tested. No phase to ground faults, open equipment ground circuits, frame voltage potential differences or exposed energized parts were found.


Christopher King, victim, reported to work at 7:00 a.m. on April 9, 1997 his regular starting time. King was instructed to blow out the air filters on all the mobile equipment. At about 8:15 a.m. King was directed to drive the Euclid R-22 haul truck, hauling material from the number 1 and 2 surge bins to the stockpiles.

About 10:40 a.m. Craig Peets, foreman checked on King. King's haul truck was parked underneath the discharge conveyor of the number 1 surge bin, and he was standing by the number 2 surge bin. King requested Peets to dump some dry material at the base of a stockpile because it was becoming spongy. Peets dumped a load of material at the stockpile at King's request. Upon returning to the crushing plant, Peets backed his haul truck underneath the discharge belt on the number 4 surge bin.

While Peets was dumping his load, Chuck Van Ostran, Missouri State Department of Transportation Inspector asked King to get a material sample from the number 1 feed belt. Van Ostran gave the sample can to King and walked over to the number 1 surge bin and stopped about six feet from the access ladder. He watched King go up the ladder to the work platform and crawl over the side and into the bin. He could not see King after he entered the bin. When King did not come out within a reasonable length of time, Van Ostran backed up until he could see the feed belt head pulley, but still could not see King in the bin. He noticed that the discharge belt was running so he pushed the OFF button and climbed up the ladder to the work platform and saw King's head above the material at the bottom of the bin.

Van Ostran climbed down and ran toward the number 4 surge bin where Peets was located, hollering and motioning to Peets to come to the surge bin. Peets realizing that something was wrong, ran to the Pep screen where he shut off the disconnect switches for the number 1 surge bin feed and discharge belts. Then Peets ran to the surge bin where King was entrapped.

Peets hollered to Elvis Hart, truck driver to shutdown the whole plant. While the employees were digging King out from the material in the surge bin Peets left and returned with the tool truck which had a cutting torch mounted on it. The torch was used to remove the bin flow control door and the tail pulley guard to assist in extricating King from the bin.

As the crew finished digging King out of the material, they could hear the sirens of the sheriff's department and the ambulance arriving. Peets started CPR and Dave Rollings, plant operator started mouth to mouth resuscitation while King was still inside the bin. King was lifted from the surge bin and the ambulance crew continued administering care to King. King was transported to Gravette Medical Center Hospital, Gravette, Arkansas, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.


The cause of the accident was the failure to provide a walkway access over the open bin for the miners to use when gathering material samples.


Order Number 4444395
Issued on April 10, 1997 under the provision of Section 103(k):

A fatal accident occurred at this mine on 4/9/97. A miner fell into a material bin. The crushing plant, material bins, and all electrical circuits are closed until MSHA can deem them safe for other miners to use. Only authorized personnel will be allowed in the area during the MSHA Investigation.

The order was terminated on April 11, 1997.

Citation Number 4444396
Issued on April 11, 1997 under the provision of Section 104(a), for violation of 30 CFR 56.16002(b):

On April 9, 1997, an employee was fatally injured when he entered the #1 surge bin and was engulfed in the bin material. The bin discharge conveyor was running, when the victim entered the bin to retrieve a state required sample of material from the #1 surge feed conveyor belt. The sample gathering procedure of entering the bin to get a sample from the feed belt was routinely performed at their mine. This was an unwarrantable failure violation.

The citation was terminated on April 15, 1997 when all the employees were instructed not to enter any bin for any reason and all samples will be taken from the stockpiles.

/s/Ronald M. Mesa

/s/Daniel J. Haupt

Approved by: Doyle D. Fink, District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB97M20]