Skip to content


Southeastern District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

Accident Investigation Report
Surface Nonmetal Mine

Fatal Falling/Sliding Material Accident

Georgia Carolina Quarries, Incorporated
GA Carolina Quarry
Sandy Cross, Oglethorpe County, Georgia
Mine I.D. 09-00904

December 18, 1997


Merle E. Slaton
Supervisory Mine Inspector

Kelly W. Fultz
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Ezra L. Killian
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

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

Martin Rosta
District Manager


Reginald Franklin, ledgeman, was fatally injured at about 2:15 p.m. on December 18, 1997, when a large slab fell from the block of granite he was working to separate, crushing him. The victim had a total of 2 years mining experience, the last two months with this company. Franklin had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48.

MSHA was notified by a telephone call from the mine superintendent at 2:30 p.m. on the day of the accident. An investigation was started the next day.

The GA Carolina Quarry, a dimension stone operation, owned and operated by Georgia Carolina Quarries, Incorporated, was located along State Highway 109, 1 mile north of Sandy Cross, Oglethorpe County, Georgia. The principal operating official was Bob Stevens, president. The quarry was normally operated one 10-hour shift a day, 4 days a week. Total employment was 7 persons.

The granite was channeled, drilled and then separated by using detonating cord. Blocks were then drilled and subdivided by using shims and wedges. The blocks were lifted from the mine by mobile crane and transported by truck to be stored and sold as blocks, or to the mill to be sawed, sized and polished. The final product was sold as building stone and monuments.

The last regular inspection of this operation was completed on July 24, 1997. Another inspection was conducted following this investigation.

Physical Factors

The accident occurred on a quarry ledge that was approximately 35 feet long, 31 feet wide and was 27 feet from the surface.

Oxygen burners and water jets were used to cut channels into the rock to prepare the rock for drilling and separation. Channels were cut to a depth of 11.5 feet (vertical) to a natural seam, leaving a 35- by 35-foot piece of granite to be subdivided into smaller blocks.

Prior to subdividing larger blocks, a water hose was used to wet the block in order to detect structural flaws and to determine defects in the material. The block of granite being extracted at the time of the accident had reportedly been checked six times in the three days prior to, and on the day of the accident.

The block was subdivided into 4- to 5-foot sections by drilling vertical holes to a depth of about 11.5 feet. The holes were 1.25 inches in diameter and were drilled about one foot apart for the length of block. The holes were then blasted using 40 grain detonating cord to induce splitting.

The last section remaining in the 35- by 35-foot channeled section measured 3-1/2 feet thick by 35 feet wide and 9 feet high. Only the top and vertical face were exposed and visible.

Lines were marked on the face of the blocks with red paint to designate where holes were to be drilled. This was called side-lining. The block involved in the accident had been side-lined so it would measure 42 inches thick, 8 feet wide and 9 feet high, when separated. A line of 3/4-inch diameter holes were drilled horizontally to a depth of about 6 inches into the face of the block using a pneumatic hand-held drill. These holes were spaced 7 inches apart.

One steel wedge and two shims, measuring 5 inches long, were driven into each of the holes with a 12-pound sledge hammer to break the block along the vertical line. After the block was broken, one set of wedges and shims was removed and replaced with three shims and one wedge to spread the stone so the remaining shims and wedges could be removed.

During the extraction process, a slab broke away from the larger block and fell on the victim. The slab measured about 8 feet horizontally, 7-1/2 feet vertically, and tapered from about 42 inches thick at the top to a feathered edge at the bottom. Total weight of the slab was about 17,000 pounds.

Description of Accident

On the day of the accident, Reginald Franklin (victim), reported for work at 7:00 a.m., his normal starting time. He, along with Curtis Moss, ledgeman, and John Dowson, foreman, inspected the rock by using a water hose to wet the rock to check for flaws and cracks. When none were found, Dowson marked a side line and instructed Franklin and Moss to begin drilling.

Moss and Franklin drilled 15 holes. They were breaking the side line with one wedge and two shims set in each of the drill holes. Moss was on the surface and to one side of the block they were breaking. Franklin was working on the ledge below, facing the block. At about 2:15 p.m., all the shims and wedges had been set and the smaller block had been broken loose from the larger block. Franklin removed one set of wedges and shims and replaced them with three shims and a wedge. When Franklin hit the wedge once, the large slab broke away and fell on him.

Dowson heard Moss and another employee, who were working in the area, yelling. Dowson immediately notified John Brooks, superintendent, of the accident and Brooks called the local rescue squad. A crane was used to remove the slab of rock from Franklin. Franklin was checked for vital signs but none were found. The county coroner arrived and pronounced Franklin dead at the scene.

Examination of the block the slab fell from, revealed a discolored area which was determined to be a geological discontinuity which contributed to the slab failure. This discontinuity resulted in a natural plane of weakness which affected the manner in which the stone broke when split with wedges. The discontinuity was not visible and could not have been detected prior to the accident.


The cause of the accident was determined to be a fault in the block of stone being quarried which resulted in a natural plane of weakness and affected the manner in which the stone broke when split with wedges.


Order No. 4551786 was issued on December 19,1997, under the provisions of Section 103(k):

On December 18, 1997, a ledgeman was fatally injured at this quarry when a ground fall occurred. This order was issued to insure the safety of personnel who work at the quarry and investigation personnel.

This order was terminated on January 13,1998,after it was determined that the mine could return to normal operation.

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB97M61]