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Western District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

Accident Investigation Report
Surface Nonmetal Mine
(Sand and Gravel)

Fatal Powered Haulage Accident

Nevada Ready Mix Corporation
Lone Mountain Pit
Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada
ID No. 26-02142

September 22, 1998


Gary L. Cook
Mine Safety and Health Specialist


David Kerber
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office:
Western District Office
Mine Safety and Health Administration
2060 Peabody Road, Suite 610
Vacaville, CA 95687

James M. Salois
District Manager


Michael A. Perkins, equipment operator, age 43, was fatally injured at about 11:15 p.m. on September 22, 1998, when he fell into a surge pile draw hole. Perkins had twenty-two years mining experience, six years at this mine and about four years experience as a bulldozer operator. He had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR Part 48.

MSHA was notified at 11:58 p.m. on the day of the accident by a telephone call from the operations manager. An investigation was started the next day.

The Lone Mountain Pit, an open pit sand and gravel operation, owned and operated by Nevada Ready Mix Corporation, was located near Las Vegas, Clark County, Nevada. The principal operating official was Rodney L. Deitrich, operations manager. The mine was normally operated three, eight-hour shifts a day, five days a week. A total of 82 persons was employed.

Sand and gravel was extracted by drilling and blasting from a single bench. Broken material was hauled by truck to the processing plant where it was crushed, screened, washed and stockpiled. The finished products were primarily used in company-owned concrete and asphalt batch plants.

The last regular inspection of this operation was completed on April 24, 1998. Another inspection was conducted in conjunction with this investigation


The accident occurred at the surge pile above the South Side tunnel conveyor belt. The surge pile was approximately 110 feet long, 50 feet wide, and 35 feet high. Material was pushed into the draw hole with a bulldozer. The material passed through a two-foot long gravity-flow chute to a clamshell feeder which controlled the amount of material that discharged onto the tunnel conveyor belt. The chute was two feet square and was positioned 15 inches above the conveyor belt. A metal slide gate installed perpendicular to the belt about six feet from the clamshell regulated the amount of material going to the wash plant. Both the clamshell and gate were manually operated.

The bulldozer was found parked at the top of the surge pile with its lights off and the blade lowered to the ground about nine feet back from the draw hole. There were footprints from the bulldozer to the draw hole.

The immediate area where the accident occurred did not have a dedicated lighting system. The stacker conveyor feeding the surge pile and the wash plant had two floodlights which indirectly illuminated some of the area. Direct lighting at the draw hole and surge pile on the night of the accident was provided by the lights on the bulldozer. Lighting did not appear to be a factor in this accident.

The mine operator had a verbal policy prohibiting persons from walking onto surge piles and had administered disciplinary action for not adhering to it. This policy had been discussed several times in safety meetings during the previous year.


On the day of the accident, Michael Perkins (victim) reported for work at 9:00 p.m., his regular starting time. He refueled his bulldozer and drove onto the surge pile, where he was to relieve another bulldozer operator.

At about 9:15 p.m., Gary Morgan, wash plant operator, called Perkins on the radio to inquire why material was not flowing from the South Side feed conveyor belt. He did not receive a response. At about the same time, Thomas Booher, conveyor man, realized that material had ceased flowing and went to the South Side conveyor tunnel to investigate. Upon arriving at the clamshell feeder, he discovered Perkins partially buried under material between the belt and clamshell feeder. Booher pulled the emergency stop cord then ran out of the tunnel to inform Morgan, who in turn called Clark Evans, shift supervisor.

Evans went inside the tunnel and tried without success to pull Perkins free. Kelly Strong, shift supervisor, arrived and Evans instructed him to call for emergency assistance. John Coker, belt press operator, arrived to assist Evans. They removed the slide gate, jogged the conveyor belt to free Perkins, and began resuscitation efforts until the local paramedics arrived. Perkins was pronounced dead at the scene a short time later. Death was attributed to suffocation.


The accident was caused by failure to shut off and lock-out the discharge equipment and by walking on the surge pile without wearing a safety belt and lifeline.


Order No. 3914241 was issued on September 23, 1998, under the provisions of Section 103(k) of the Mine Act, to insure the safety of persons at the operation until the affected area could be returned to normal operation.

The order was terminated on September 23, 1998, after it was determined that the mine could safely return to normal operation.

Citation No. 4560661 was issued on October 29, 1998 under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.16002(c):

An equipment operator was fatally injured at this operation on September 22, 1998, when he was engulfed in the surge pile. The victim walked on top of the surge pile without locking out the discharge equipment and without wearing a safety belt and lifeline.

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB98M42