Skip to content

District 5



Bold Camp Strip (44-06808)
A & G Coal Corporation
Pound, Wise County, Virginia

March 29, 1999


Daniel S. Graybeal
Mine Safety and Health Specialist

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
P.O. Box 560, Wise County Plaza, Norton, Virginia 24273
Billy G. Foutch, Acting District Manager


A & G Coal Corporation's Bold Camp Strip mine is located five miles southeast of Pound, Virginia and approximately one mile north of State Route 634 off Lane Hollow Road. The mine is also accessed from the Lick Fork Road. Production began October 22, 1995 with multiple pits in the Bollings, Clintwood, and Lyons seams, having a cumulative total of 196 inches.

Employment is provided for 73 surface personnel. The mine operates three shifts per day, five days per week and produces an average of 3800 tons per day. Each shift has staggered starting times. Coal is hauled from the pits to market by contract carrier.

The principal officers for A & G Coal Corporation at the time of the accident were:

President........................................Jerry W. Wharton
Vice President...............................Jerry W. Wharton
Secretary/Treasurer.......................Jerry W. Wharton
Mine Superintendent......................Tommy J. McAmis

An MSHA Safety and Health Inspection (AAA) had been completed on September 9, 1998. A (AAA) Inspection had started on December 2, 1998 and was ongoing at the time of the accident. The 1998 fourth quarter incidence rate for the mining industry was 7.77 compared to 2.11 for this mine.


On Monday, March 29, 1999, the production crews, under the supervision of Gregory Maggard, began work at 6:00 a.m. Each crew was given instructions in accordance with the day's operating plan. At approximately 7:00 a.m., Anthony Ray Adkins, blaster helper/water truck driver, was instructed by Maggard to inspect the DM-800 Mack Water Truck (SN DM885SX3621) and commence watering the coal haul roads. Maggard stated that he received no report of safety defects on the DM800 Mack Water Truck on March 29, 1999. At approximately 10:00 a.m. Maggard assisted Adkins and David Mullins, driver of the 50-ton Cat water truck, in repositioning a water pump located at the Lick Fork Side Water Pond. The only other contact with Adkins during the shift was through mobile radios provided in all operating equipment.

Adkins hauled three loads of water without incident and was in the process of depositing the fourth load at about 3:12 p.m., when he met Richard Cumbo and Ronald Cumbo along the Lane Hollow Mine Road approximately 0.4 miles up grade from the site where the accident occurred. The Cumbo brothers, employees of Southern Auger (contractor), stated that Adkins stopped the water sprays as the vehicles passed, and that the truck was traveling at a slow rate of speed. This was the second time that Adkins had applied water to the Lane Hollow Road during the shift. At approximately 3:15 p.m. Adkins lost control of the water truck on the steepest part of the roadway. The vehicle traveled through the berm on the right side of the road, proceeded nearly parallel to the roadway along a 35-degree slope for a distance of approximately 75 feet, and violently nosed onto a pond access road. The vehicle then overturned down a second slope, contacted a rock drain, and overturned a final time. The truck came to rest on the passenger side approximately 150 feet from the mine road. Adkins either jumped or was thrown from the vehicle during the accident. The victim's cap was found on the berm on the west side of the pond access road. The victim was found on the outer slope of the pond access road 40 feet below his cap.

Gregory Cooke, day shift drill operator, was leaving the mine work area at the end of his shift at approximately 3:20 p.m., when he came upon the disturbed roadway berm. Cooke parked his vehicle, ran to the edge of the road and saw the overturned water truck. Cooke returned to his vehicle and called on his mobile radio for Maggard, and James Hopkins, evening shift foreman. Emmitt Greear, day shift dozer operator, and Lloyd Cantrell, day shift blaster, came upon the accident scene as they were leaving the mine and stopped to render assistance. Charles Bevins, evening shift mechanic, was coming to the mine work area to begin his shift, when he saw the accident scene and also stopped. Maggard answered Cooke's call for assistance and quickly drove to the scene. Upon arrival, Maggard joined Cooke, Greear, and Cantrell in checking the victim for vital signs. The victim was unresponsive and attempts to revive him were unsuccessful. Maggard went to his vehicle to notify Tommy McAmis, superintendent, of the accident and instructed him to call the rescue squad. At approximately 3:35 p.m., McAmis called for medical emergency assistance and notified the Mine Safety and Health Administration and the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy of the accident. The victim was transported by the Wise Rescue Squad to St. Mary's Hospital in Norton, Virginia, where he was pronounced dead at 4:33 p.m. by Dr. Stephen Heinz.


  1. There were no eyewitnesses to the accident.

  2. The victim was seen at 3:12 p.m., watering the Lane Hollow Road approximately 0.4 miles upgrade from the accident scene. Considering the amount of roadway that had already been watered during this trip, it was estimated that the 25-ton capacity water tank contained approximately 12 tons of water at the time of the accident.

  3. The accident occurred on the mine road approximately 0.35 miles North of State Route 634 in Wise County, Virginia.

  4. The road width ranged from 19 to 22 feet while the DM-800 Mack Water Truck width was eight and one-half feet. The grade of the road ranged from 12 to 16 percent on the section of road extending 0.4 miles upgrade from the accident scene. The road consisted of compacted dirt and gravel which was maintained in good condition. No skid marks were observed on the road.

  5. The berm immediately above and below the accident scene ranged from 24 to 29 inches high with a base width of 50 to 67 inches. The berm consisted of well vegetated compacted earth. Twenty-seven feet of berm was destroyed during the accident. The DM-800 Mack Water Truck was the largest vehicle using the road and had an axle height of 24 inches.

  6. The front axle and front wheels of the truck were dislodged from the truck frame when the vehicle uprooted a 12-inch diameter oak tree. The oak tree was broken into two pieces and carried along by the vehicle. The tree stump, front wheels, hood, windshields and other cab components were found on the
    pond access road.

  7. The cab, chassis, steering linkage, and under carriage of the truck suffered extensive damage during the accident. The vehicle steering wheel was bent and greatly distorted from its original shape. During the on-site investigation, the vehicle's transmission was found in the neutral position. Both the direct gear shifting lever and the auxiliary shifting levers were severed from the transmission during impact. The steering gear assembly and steering box were found in good condition. The steering box and the power steering reservoir were virtually empty of fluid.

  8. Seat belts were found to be in good condition and were provided for both seats of the vehicle.

  9. Dr. Maurice Nida, Wise County Medical Examiner, listed the cause of death as crushing injuries to the chest.

  10. The vehicle was not provided with adequate brakes as listed below: The right-front drive-wheel brake- canister pushrod exceeded the 2-inch maximum stroke. The rod moved 2.5 inches before brake shoe contact was made with the drum. Five of six slack adjuster mechanisms were defective. The locking devices would not hold the brake system in adjustment. This required the brakes to be readjusted frequently. The air chamber for the left-forward drive-axle was inoperative. The right-front steering-axle wheel-drum had worn to 0.268 inches oversize. The left-front steering-axle wheel-drum had worn to 0.325 inches oversize. This reduced the effective braking force on the front of the vehicle. The upper half of the forward brake lining for the right-rear drive-axle was loose, reducing the braking force for this wheel. The left-rear drive-wheel contained grease inside the wheel drum ranging up to one inch in depth, reducing the braking force on this wheel.

  11. Five deficiencies which also affected safety were discovered on the vehicle: 1) The power steering gear box contained a seal that leaked. This required the addition of up to one-half gallon of fluid to the one and one-half gallon reservoir during each twelve hours of truck use; 2) The driver's door was difficult to open from the inside; 3) The driver's side door glass had to be raised and lowered by hand; 4) A three-foot section of cord was attached to the vehicle accelerator pedal and used for the purpose of retracting the accelerator in order to activate the Dynatard engine retarder; 5) The engine brake clutch pedal electric solenoid switch contained a weak interior contact spring. A rubber o-ring was added to the contact lever to cause the electric circuit for the Dynatard brake to make contact.


The accident occurred when the victim lost control of the vehicle and was unable to slow or stop the vehicle due to inadequate braking force.


The following orders/citations were issued due to conditions revealed during the investigation.

  1. A 103(k) Order No. 7302254 was issued to ensure the safety of all persons at the mine until an investigation was completed and all areas and equipment were deemed safe.

  2. A 104(d)(1) Citation No. 7300483 was issued citing 30 CFR 77.1606(a) for failure to comply with the operator's pre-operational inspection program for mobile haulage equipment.

  3. A 104(d)(1) Order No. 7300484 was issued citing 30 CFR 77.1605(b) for inadequate brakes found on the DM-800 Mack Water Truck.

Respectfully submitted:

Daniel S. Graybeal
Mine Safety and Health Specialist


Billy G. Foutch
Acting District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin: