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Southeastern District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

Accident Investigation Report
Surface Nonmetal Mine

Fatal Powered Haulage Accident

Watson Trucking
Benchmark Carolina Aggregates, Incorporated
Neverson Quarry
Bailey, Wilson County, North Carolina
Mine I.D. 31-00074-6YT

July 8, 1997


Donald B. Craig
Supervisory Mine Inspector

Darrell Brennan
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

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

Martin Rosta
District Manager


Nancy Hughes, contract truck driver, age 44, was fatally injured at about 1:40 p.m., on July 8, 1997, when she drove her truck into the path of an on-coming train. Hughes had fifteen weeks experience in this job. The victim had not received training under the requirements of 30 CFR, Part 48.

Glenn Moore, safety director for Neverson Quarry, notified MSHA's Sanford, North Carolina field office of the accident at 2:15 p.m. on July 8, 1997. An investigation was started the next day.

Neverson Quarry, a multiple-bench granite operation owned and operated by Benchmark Carolina Aggregates, Incorporated, was located off U.S. Highway 264-alternate near Bailey, Wilson County, North Carolina. The principal operating official was C. Jimmy Manning, superintendent. The mine normally operated one 10 hour shift a day, five days a week and employed 24 persons.

The operation consisted of a crushing and finishing plant and an open pit quarry. Granite was drilled, blasted, crushed, sized, and stockpiled on site. The finished product was sold for use in concrete, asphalt, and for other purposes in the construction industry.

Hughes was employed by Watson Trucking Company. Neverson Quarry sold aggregate to Watson Trucking Company who was delivering it to a local Interstate construction site.

The last regular inspection of the Neverson Quarry was completed on April 23, 1997.


The railroad crossing where the accident occurred was maintained by Norfolk Southern Corporation and had a 50 feet right-of-way from center-line to each side of the track. The crossing was not provided with a crossing gate or flashing lights. Warning signs of the crossing, a railroad crossing sign, and a stop sign were in place on each side of the railroad tracks and visible to on-coming traffic in both directions. Visibility at the crossing was not restricted by any permanent structures or landscaping. A whistle post was 1337 feet on the west side of the crossing.

The road from the highway to the scale house was maintained by Benchmark Carolina Aggregates, Incorporated and went north to south. This road was paved to the railroad right-of-way and graveled from the other side of the tracks to the scale house. The road was slightly inclined at the railroad crossing on both sides of the tracks.

There were no adverse weather conditions at the time of the accident.

The dump truck was a three axle, 1975 Ford, identified as W-4 and classified as a for hire property vehicle with a gross weight of 54,000 pounds. At the time of the accident, the truck was loaded with over 15 tons of stone.

Due to the severity of the damage to the cab and the truck, no attempt was made to test the brakes. A visual inspection of the braking system at the drive axles did not reveal any leaks or damaged lines, hoses or fittings. The service brakes were shoe/drum type with an air chamber on each rear axle.

The locomotive was a Norfolk Southern Corporation 1995 GE unit, traveling east when the accident occurred.


On the day of the accident, Nancy Hughes (victim)reported to work at the Watson Trucking office at her normal starting time of 7:00 a.m. to receive work assignments. She was instructed to go the Neverson Quarry to get rip-rap stone and haul it to a construction site near the mine. She had made several runs during the day without incident and was leaving the mine with another load when the accident occurred.

At 1:34 p.m. Hughes drove to the scales, was weighed, and then pulled off the scales and proceeded to the crossing, which was approximately 185 feet away. As she was crossing the tracks, she was struck by the train.

The train's warning horn blasts were heard by employees from various areas of the mine prior to the accident.

Several witnesses to the accident stated that Hughes slowed down as she approached the tracks but did not appear to make any attempt to stop for the train.

The locomotive struck Hughes' truck on the driver's side of the operator's cab. The cab was severed from the truck's frame by the collision, resulting in Hughes either falling out of, or being thrown from the cab, approximately 180 feet from the point of impact. The cab came to rest approximately 198 feet from the point of impact. It could not be determined whether Hughes was wearing a seat belt when the accident occurred.

Monty Malldin, customer driver, was at the scale house when the accident occurred. He yelled to the scale house personnel to call for help and then ran to Hughes who was laying face down in a ditch to the south side of the tracks. Malldin rolled Hughes over and detected a pulse and noted that her breathing was labored. When the emergency medical technicians arrived about ten minutes later, she did not have a pulse.

Hughes sustained multiple traumatic injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene by the medical examiner for Wilson County, North Carolina. The body was taken to Wilson County Hospital.


The direct cause of the accident was failure to stop at the railroad crossing and yield to the train.


Watson Trucking Company

Citation No. 4522610
Issued December 9, 1997, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of standard 56.9100(a):

A fatal accident occurred at this operation on July 8, 1997, when a Norfolk Southern Corporation freight train struck a 1975 Ford dump truck crossing railroad tracks on the mine haul road. The driver of the truck failed to stop and yield to an oncoming train at the crossing, which was posted with warning signs and stop signs on both approaches to the tracks.

/s/ Donald B. Craig
Supervisory Mine Inspector

/s/ Darrell Brennan
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by: Martin Rosta, District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB97M47]