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District 4




Lightfoot No. 2 Mine (ID No. 46-04955)
Eastern Associated Coal Corp.
Wharton, Boone County, West Virginia

January 20, 1998


Vaughan Gartin
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
100 Bluestone Road, Mount Hope, West Virginia 25880
Earnest C. Teaster, Jr., District Manager

Release Date: May 12, 1998



On January 20, 1998, the evening shift section crew of the 017-MMU, 3rd right section entered the mine at 3:00 p.m., under the supervision of Fred Collins, Jr., section foreman. Upon arrival on the section, Mr. Collins traveled across the pillar line making routine examinations. After examinations were completed, some minor repair work had to be performed on equipment and ventilation controls. Mining commenced in the No. 4 entry. After completion of this mining, and a lift out of the bottom end of this block, the crew moved the mobile roof supports to the No. 3 entry pillars. After the mobile roof supports were set, mining commenced in the 1st lift of the left hand block of coal and at approximately 8:15 p.m., a fatal roof-fall accident occurred. Dorman L. Brown, mobile roof support operator, was fatally injured by the roof fall which fell outby the mobile roof supports and measured 2 to 3.8 feet thick by 40 to 44 feet in length and 20 feet in width. Brown was positioned inby the bumper of the Joy 14CM15 continuous-mining machine. The continuous-mining-machine operator was also injured when struck by the falling roof.


The Lightfoot No. 2 mine, Eastern Associated Coal Corp., is located at Wharton, Boone County, West Virginia. Coal is mined in the Powellton coal seam. Average mining height is 68 inches.

The mine opened in April 1977. Employment is provided for 150 employees on two production shifts and one maintenance shift, with the mine producing coal five and six days a week. The mine produces an average of 7,000 tons of raw material daily from two mechanized-mining sections, one on advance and one on retreat mining.

Coal is transported from the retreat mining section via mobile bridge conveyor to a belt conveyor. Coal from the advancing section is transported from the face via Long Airdox coal haulers to the section dumping point, then via a belt conveyor system to the surface preparation plant.

The principal officers of Eastern Associated Coal Corp. are H. D. Dahl, President; Sam Gray, Superintendent; D. C. Ashby, Safety Director; and Steve Cox, Principal Officer - Health and Safety.


Fred Collins, Jr., evening shift section foreman for the 3rd right retreat section 017-0 MMU, checked the preshift mine examiner's record book and found no hazards reported by the preshift examiner and day shift section foreman, Sharrel Clark. Collins and his crew loaded onto a trolley-powered, track-mounted mantrip vehicle and departed the surface around 3:00 p.m. After arriving at the mouth of the 3rd right section panel, the crew unloaded and then reloaded onto battery-powered, rubber-tired vehicles to travel onto the section. Arriving on the section around 3:30 p.m., Collins examined the pillar line and found nothing unusual, nor any abnormal roof conditions.

The continuous-mining machine was located in the last crosscut between No. 3 and No. 4 entries. The day shift had mined lifts from the No. 1 entry in the barrier to the left and half of the right side pillar block, then moved to the No. 2 entry and mined lifts on the left and right side of the entry. The crew then moved to the No. 5 entry and mined the lifts in the left pillar block and right side barrier. Mr. Collins informed the evening shift crew that mining would commence in the No. 4 entry per the mining plan sequence.

The evening shift crew started mining from the No. 4 entry right and left sides. No abnormal roof conditions were encountered while mining in the No. 4 entry, which took approximately 90 minutes. Pillars are mined by taking a lift to the left and repositioning the mobile roof support so a lift can be taken from the right. This sequence is followed until the pillars are mined left and right to the outby side. After completion of No. 4 entry mining, the continuous-mining-machine operator, Clinton David Ray, was informed that one of the mobile roof support jacks had come out of its socket and proceeded to inform Frank Morris, chief electrician, of this. Noting it would take 30 to 40 minutes to do the repair work, Ray and Ricky Prince, continuous-mining-machine helper, ate lunch.

The section belt conveyor was relocated for mining in the No. 3 entry. Dorman Brown positioned the mobile roof supports on the inby end of No. 3 entry pillar blocks and outby in the right crosscut, 2 MRS units in each place. Collins examined the area noting nothing unusual and informed the continuous-mining-machine crew that everything was ready to go. About 7:45 p.m., the continuous-mining-machine crew was located in the crosscut outby, when a pillar fall occurred and damaged ventilation curtains in the No. 4 and 5 entries. The curtains were repaired in approximately ten minutes.

Ray trammed the continuous-mining machine into the No. 3 entry. Ray stated that all required roof and methane examinations were conducted. About 8:05 p.m., the first lift was started and approximately seven feet of coal had been mined, when the roof fell without any warning. Ray and Brown (victim) were standing inby the rear bumper of the continuous-mining machine, with Collins standing just a few feet outby. Collins stated as he arrived at the miner in the No. 3 entry, roof started to fall. He heard nothing and there were no indications a fall was about to occur. At the same time he looked outby toward the crosscut at Prince, not realizing that the miners inby had been hit by falling roof. Collins turned around and observed Ray lying on the mine floor beside the continuous-mining machine with his head toward the face, and underneath the rock. Also, he could see Brown bent over with rock on him. Collins was able to communicate with Ray, but obtained no response from Brown.

Collins, with the assistance of Prince, removed Ray from underneath the rock. Ray was conscious and talking. He was taken to the outby crosscut where first aid was administered and he was prepared for transportation to the surface. Collins then proceeded back to the accident site. Collins was able to reach under the rock that was on top of Brown, to check for vital signs. No vital signs could be found, and no response could be obtained. Due to unstable mine roof in the area, Collins then left the accident site and called outside to notify the dispatcher of the accident and to call for emergency units. Jerry Smith, shift foreman, and Frank Morris, evening shift maintenance chief, were also notified. Collins then returned to the accident scene to ascertain what materials would be needed to secure the area and protect the safety of persons performing rescue work. In the meantime, Ray was taken to the surface where he was then transported by ambulance to Wharton, WV, then flown by Health-Net to a Charleston, WV hospital.

Smith, shift foreman, arrived at the accident scene around 9:17 p.m, where additional timbers had already been set. One of the mobile roof supports in the crosscut had been positioned outby the boom of the continuous-mining machine, and the other mobile roof support had been positioned crosswise in the outby crosscut. This was necessary to provide additional roof support in the area. A water jack was placed underneath the rock which was on the victim, and the rock was raised three to four inches. The rock was then broken and removed by hand. The victim's body was recovered at 9:41 p.m. The body was transported to the surface. Mr. Smith then notified Benny Milam, general manager, by mine telephone to confirm the fatal. After the victim's body arrived on the surface, he was placed in the care of the Boone County Ambulance Authority and transported to Boone Emergency Care, Inc., of the Boone Memorial Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival by Doctor Dy.


The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) was notified at 9:50 p.m, on January 20, 1998, that a fatal roof-fall accident had occurred. MSHA personnel arrived at the mine at 10:30 p.m. A 103(k) order was issued to ensure the safety of the miners.

MSHA and the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training jointly conducted the investigation with the assistance of mine management personnel, the miners, and representatives of the miners.

All parties were briefed by mine management personnel as to the circumstances surrounding the accident.

On January 21 and 23, 1998, representatives from all parties conducted the on-site portion of the investigation. Photographs were taken and relevant measurements were made of the accident scene.

Interviews of individuals known to have direct knowledge of the facts surrounding the accident were conducted at the Eastern Associated Coal Corp., Wells Complex office, at Wharton, West Virginia, on January 22, 1998.

The physical portion of the investigation was completed January 23, 1998, and the 103(k) order was terminated.



Records indicated that training had been conducted in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48.

An examination of Brown's training records revealed that he had received all required training. Brown had a total of 17 years and 7 months mining experience.

Roof Control

The approved roof-control plan allows the following types of roof bolts to be used at the mine: conventional, fully grouted bolt, mechanical anchor-resin assisted, tension bolt system, point anchor and tension rebar bolt system.

The mine roof in the area where the accident occurred, as well as other areas on the section, was supported with 60-inch fully grouted bolts.

The roof bolts were installed on four to five foot crosswise and four foot lengthwise spacing as required by the approved roof-control plan.

The mobile roof supports (MRS) were being utilized on the section where pillar recovery work was being performed. Breaker posts (timbers) were set in accordance with the approved roof-control plan.

Entries and crosscuts were developed 20 feet wide in accordance with the approved roof-control plan. Second mining was being performed in the area where the accident occurred.

Recovery was being done from the left side of the section to the right, with mining the Nos. 1 and 2 entries, then the Nos. 5 and 4 entries, with the No. 3 entry last in accordance with a typical pillar recovery plan. The recovery plan can be changed at management's option. Crosscuts were developed on a 60 degree angle.

Physical Factors

The fall at the accident site measured 20 feet wide, 40 to 44 feet in length, and ranged from 2 feet to 3.8 feet in thickness.

The entries and crosscuts on this section were developed on 72 by 95 foot centers.

The mine roof was bolted with 60-inch resin-grouted bolts.

This section was developed during the later part of 1997, using the 5 entry method and 60 degree angle crosscuts.

The area around the roof fall and outby this section experienced some indications of rib sloughage due to the weight of the overburden.

This section utilizes four Long Airdox mobile bridge carriers with bridge operators on each bridge during advance and retreat mining.

The mobile roof supports were properly set in accordance with the approved roof-control plan.

The mine roof in the fall area appeared to have broken and shifted from right to left due to the angle of broken roof bolts protruding from the mine roof.

The continuous-mining-machine operator and mobile roof-support operator were located inby the bumper of the continuous-mining machine while mining the lift to the left.

A Joy 14CM15 continuous-mining machine with radio-remote control was being used.

Pressure, stress, or shifting roof, caused 35 roof bolts to fail. The MSHA Pittsburgh Safety and Health Technology Center tested some of the bolts from the accident area, and found that they met the applicable standards.


The fatal accident occurred as a result of a roof fall. A combination of factors caused the immediate mine roof to collapse. Overburden in excess of 1,000 feet caused the immediate mine roof to shift. Pressures, stress, or shifting roof, sheared or broke 35 fully-grouted-resin bolts. The No. 3 entry, center of section, would contain the highest abutment load during retreat mining for this type of pillar design and mining sequence.


A 103(k) order was issued to ensure the safety of the miners until the accident investigation could be completed. There were no contributing violations of 30 CFR observed.

Respectfully submitted by:

Vaughan Gartin
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by:

Richard J. Kline
Assistant District Manager

Earnest C. Teaster, Jr.
District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB98C02