Skip to content

District 11

Accident Investigation Report
(Underground Coal Mine)


Boone No. 1 Mine (I.D. No. 01-02908)
Oak Mountain Energy, LLC
Maylene, Shelby County, Alabama

March 6, 1998


James H. Saunders
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
135 Gemini Circle, Suite 213, Birmingham, Alabama 35209
Michael J. Lawless, District Manager

General Information

The Boone No. 1 Mine is operated by Oak Mountain Energy, LLC, and is located 8 miles west of Montevallo off Highway 10 in Maylene, Shelby County, Alabama. The mine opened in 1990 as the Gholson Mine. In 1992, Boone Resources, Incorporated became the operator of the mine. The slope portals that are being utilized by Boone No. 1 Mine were opened in 1980 as the Gurnee Mine, operated by U.S. Steel Corporation. The Gurnee Mine closed in 1981 after developing the slope entries approximately 1,300 feet. In 1995, these slope entries were connected to the Boone No. 1 Mine.

The Boone No. 1 Mine is accessed by 8 drift openings into the Gholson Coal Seam. Mining height averages 40 to 48 inches. The mine floor elevations ranged from 460 to 1,154 feet. The current maximum cover depth is 1,854 feet. The underground mine encompasses an area of approximately 1,063 acres.

Employment is provided for 179 persons working underground and 23 working on the surface. The mine operates two continuous mining sections, producing coal two shifts a day, seven days a week. The production shifts overlap, working nine hours each on day and evening shift. The night shift works overlapping ten hours performing maintenance and general work. The mine produces an average of 2500 tons of clean coal daily. The mine liberates 1,335,800 cubic feet of methane per 24 hours at the single exhausting fan which produces 418,500 cubic feet of air per minutes. An advancing room and pillar system of mining is employed using Eimco 2810-1 remote control continuous mining machines. Long-Airdox MBC-30C Chain Mobile Bridge Carriers, Long-Airdox battery scoops, and Long-Airdox Roof Bolters or Fletcher DDO-13 Roof Drills are used on each section. Coal is transported to the surface via belt conveyor system. Diesel powered, rubber tired tractors and man buses are utilized to transport employees and supplies in and out of the mine.

A MSHA complete Health and Safety Inspection was completed on February 12, 1998. A complete Health and Safety Inspection began on February 13, 1998, and was in progress at the time of the accident.

The principal officers at Oak Mountain Energy, LLC, Boone No. 1 Mine at the time of the accident were:

Rick ThomasPresident
Joe PolceGeneral Manager
Sam GilbertMine Engineer

Description of Accident

On Thursday, March 5, 1998, at 10:20 p.m., the maintenance and general crew, under the supervision of Jeffrey Farris, Foreman, entered the mine and traveled via diesel powered manbus to the 002 Section (MMU 002-0). The crew arrived at approximately 11:05 p.m. Farris and Ronald Salmons, Larry Holeman, and Grady Robinson had to add a 1000 feet of high voltage cable on a sled and pull the power center up and check the cable. This task was completed at about 4:00 a.m. Farris told Robinson and Holeman to work on the water line along the belt entry.

A permanent stopping needed to be constructed on each side of the belt. Farris and Holeman erected the permanent stopping on the left (return) side and Salmons and Robinson constructed the stopping on the right (intake) side of the section. The crew worked until approximately 5:30 a.m. Farris preshifted the working places at approximately 5:00 a.m. Farris was replaced by John Bennet, Owl Shift Mine Foreman, at the permanent stopping location. Holeman and Robinson rock dusted the faces with the bantam duster on the scoop and Salmons moved the battery chargers and some belt structure up with the other scoop on the section. Farris told Holeman to put his scoop on charge at approximately 7:15 a.m. Farris told Robinson to hang the check curtain in the No. 6 entry outby the parked man buses. Before Robinson was finished installing the check curtain, Bennett told him to go get a couple of buckets of plaster with a scoop and finish plastering the stopping on the left (return) side. Farris completed the installation of the check curtain in the No. 6 entry while Robinson traveled approximately 2 crosscuts outby the No. 6 entry. This was approximately 7:30 a.m. to 7:45 a.m. The day shift production crew, under the supervision of Carl Harless arrived on the section at 7:48 a.m. Jimmy Ray, Electrician, Mike Poe, Electrical Trainee, were sitting on the left side of "Little Blue", a four passenger diesel manbus and Carl Casey, Electrician, and Craig Davis, Electrical Trainee (victim) were on the right side gathering up their tools and conversing among themselves. Davis crawled around behind the 4-person manbus, positioning himself between the coal pillar corner rib and the manbus, approximately 18 to 24 inches clearance, to ask Ray and Poe a question. At the same time Robinson was tramming inby in the No. 6 entry with the plaster in the scoop. Returning to the area where he had previously started installing the check curtain, Robinson was articulating the scoop from left to right through the check curtain so as not to tear it down and ringing the warning bell and trying to hold the check curtain away from him when he felt a bump. The scoop struck the manbus, sliding the manbus back approximately 18 to 24 inches into the rib. The rear bumper of the manbus caught Davis in the chest area while he was crawling between the manbus and the coal rib. Robinson heard Ray say that a man was pinned by the manbus. Robinson tried, but was unable, to reverse the scoop off the manbus. Ray told Casey to move the manbus up so Davis could be released. When the manbus moved up, Ray and Poe dragged Davis out from between the manbus and the rib. Ray started artificial resuscitation after determining Davis had a Harless told Robinson to shut off the scoop and let Tim Workman, day shift Scoop Operator, reverse the scoop from the manbus.

Workman moved the scoop off of the manbus. Farris and Ray started to administer CPR to Davis when no pulse could be detected. Farris instructed the men around them to get a manbus to transport Davis and six of them would accompany them to relieve each other while administering CPR. They did this until they reached the No. 11 belt drive where they were met by a paramedic from Careline Ambulance Service. The paramedic took over the CPR and continued until they reached the surface. Davis was later pronounced dead by the Shelby County Coroner on the surface.


The MSHA District Office was notified of the accident at 8:30 a.m. on March 6, 1998, by Samuel Gilbert, Mine Engineer. The accident investigation team responded, with the first arriving at the mine at 10:00 a.m. MSHA's Pittsburgh Health and Safety Technology Center was notified and an electrical inspector was scheduled to assist in the investigation. The underground inspection portion of the investigation and the interviews started upon the District team's arrival at the mine. The underground examination of the equipment and the interviews were concluded on Saturday March 7, 1998.


  1. The 002 Section is a seven-entry system for the development of panels.

  2. The average height of the accident area ranged from 36 to 44 inches.

  3. A single split system of ventilation is used.

  4. Roof and rib conditions were good.

  5. The quantity of air in the last open crosscut was 43,470 cfm and the methane detected in the No. 1 to No. 7 faces ranged from 0.1 per centum to 0.2 per centum.

  6. Evidence and testimony indicated that the check curtain installed in the entry was within two to four feet of the corners of the coal pillars in the No. 6 entry.

  7. The diesel four passenger manbus (serial No. 220014), Alpha Services, Inc., was checked for all safety features on the machine and no hazards were observed.

  8. The Long-Airdox battery scoop (serial No. 482-2196), that was located on the No. 2 Section, was tested on March 6, 1998 for; lights (front and rear), a warning device, brakes, automatic parking brakes, panic stop switches and the overall appearance by Bill Herren, Electrical Inspector. On March 7, 1998, Herren and Robert Holubeck, Electrical Engineer, examined the battery scoop located on the section and the diesel manbus. No deficiencies were found which contributed to the accident.

  9. The No. 6 entry roadway was dry.


The accident occurred while an employee was positioned in an area of close confinement. The employee had placed himself in this position enroute from one side of the mantrip to the other via the shortest path. Contributing to the accident was the practice of parking rubber tired mobile equipment in the travelways of entries and installing check curtains close to the corners of the coal pillars, thereby obstructing the visibility of equipment operators and personnel in the area.

Enforcement Actions

The following order and safeguard were issued during the accident Investigation:

  1. A 103(k) Order No. 4761564 was issued on March 6, 1998, to ensure the safety of the miners in the area and to ensure that the area was not disturbed until the Investigation could be completed.

  2. A 314(b) No. 4477049 was issued to provide a safeguard that all rubber tired mobile equipment be parked a minimum of 30 feet from run through curtains or flypads.

Respectfully Submitted:

James H. Saunders
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector


Michael J. Lawless
District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB98C08