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Underground Coal Mine

Fatal Fall of Roof Accident
May 22, 2001


Coal Miners, Inc.
Eagle Valley Mine (11-02846)
Equality, Gallatin County, Illinois

Accident Investigators

Wolfgang M.J. Kaak
Mine Safety and Health Specialist


Kenneth S. Champley
Mine Safety and Health Specialist

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
District 8
2300 Willow Street, Suite 200, Vincennes, Indiana 47591
James K. Oakes, District Manager

Release Date 11/08/01


On Tuesday, May 22, 2001, at approximately 2:45 a.m., a 54-year-old repairman was fatally injured from a fall of roof. The accident occurred as the victim was servicing the No. 11 continuous mining machine located in the No. 5 Entry outby the last open crosscut. The victim was positioned over the miner head, filling the miner head with gear oil when a section of roof fell out between the installed roof bolts and struck him, pinning his head between the fallen rock and the top of the continuous mining machine. The victim was stabilized and transported to the surface. The victim succumbed to his injuries on May 23, 2001 at approximately 6:07 p.m. Evidence indicated that the roof that fell was at the inby edge of a slip and that the roof bolt spacing was not in accordance with the approved roof control plan.


Eagle Valley Mine is in Gallatin County, Illinois, about seven miles south of the city of Equality. A & F Coal Company, Inc. opened the mine, originally known as Arclar Mine Underground, for Tek-Bar Industries, Inc. (Tek-Bar) in 1984 in the Illinois No.5 Seam. Effective January 1, 1990, Tek-Bar merged with two other companies. In July 1990, Sugar Camp Coal, LLC. (Sugar Camp) bought the mine. The operator became Coal Miners, Inc. (CMI) and the mine name changed to Eagle Valley Mine. CMI is a contract operator for Sugar Camp. Black Beauty Coal Company (Black Beauty) owns controlling interest in Sugar Camp. CMI began mining in the Davis Seam, also known as the Illinois No. 2 Seam, in 1995 and now mines coal simultaneously in both coal beds. Black Beauty operates a surface mine, Wildcat Hills Mine, I.D. 11-03017, that partially overlies both seams of the Eagle Valley Mine.

The depth of cover over the No. 5 Seam averages 160 feet, but varies from the outcropping to the surface to about 260 feet. The maximum depth of cover over the Davis Seam is about 440 feet, but averages about 300 feet. Some workings in the Davis Seam underlie the workings in the No. 5 Seam and the separation between the seams is about 230 feet. The No . 5 Seam averages 50 inches in thickness while the Davis Seam averages 43 inches in thickness. Five drift portals and a dual compartment shaft reach the No. 5 Seam. Reaching the Davis Seam is a slope from the No. 5 Seam and a separate dual compartment shaft from the surface with no openings to the No. 5 Seam. Miners enter both seams through the No. 5 Seam portals.

Two exhausting main fans ventilate the No. 5 Seam and a third exhaust main mine fan ventilates the workings in the Davis Seam. Each seam has a separate ventilation system and a separate belt conveyor system.

Eagle Valley Mine uses three continuous mining machines for development work, two in the upper seam and one in the lower seam. Battery ram cars are employed in the No.5 Seam and a mobile bridge conveyor in the Davis Seam for coal haulage. The mine operates two production shifts and one maintenance shift per day and the average coal production is about 7,000 tons of clean coal per day. CMI uses open-top diesel-powered equipment for transportation of personnel and equipment throughout the mine. Coal is transported from the units to the surface by conveyor belts. The travel entry is designated as the alternate escapeway and is isolated with the belt entry and other neutral entries throughout most of the mine. Eagle Valley Mine provides employment for 188 miners, of which 177 miners work underground. Miners are represented by the Stove, Furnace, Energy, and Allied Appliance Workers Division of the International Brotherhood of Boilermakers, Iron Ship Builders, Blacksmiths, Forgers, and Helpers Union.

The immediate roof strata for the Illinois No. 5 Seam consists of dark gray shale six to twelve inches thick and gray shale from five to twelve feet thick. Sandy shale and sandstone five to sixteen feet in thickness make up the main roof. Eagle Valley Mine's roof control plan in effect at the time of mining the accident area required, at a minimum, the installation of 30-inch long 5/8-inch diameter bolts on a maximum five by five-foot pattern. Typically, CMI installed 60-inch fully grouted 3/4-inch diameter grade 60 rods. The plan limited panel entry and crosscut widths to 20 feet. A minimum of five roof bolts have to be installed per row in the roof in the continuous haulage belt entry. At four-way intersections, the plan limited the average diagonal distance to 35 feet. Approved entry and crosscut centers ranged from 45 to 60 feet.

MSHA District 8 inspectors completed the last AAA - Safety and Health Inspection (regular inspection) on March 30, 2001. A regular inspection began on April 3, 2001, and the mine is on an ABE - 104(i) Spot (15-Day) Inspection cycle.


At 10:25 p.m. May 21, 2001, the maintenance crew for the No. 2 section under the supervision of Joel Hughes, Section Foreman and Gene Dodd, Lead Mechanic, entered the mine. The crew consisted of Gary Vaughn, Section Mechanic, Gary Hays, Mechanic, John Whitfield, Belt Mechanic, Mike Whitfield, Belt Mechanic, and Tom Myers, Laborer. They traveled to the No. 2 working section and arrived about 11:00 p.m. Hughes and Dodd got the workers together and discussed the work that had to be done that night. Hughes assigned his workers to their jobs and Dodd assigned the repair work to the repairmen.

The second shift had finished loading the No. 6 Right Crosscut and backed the continuous mining machine into the No. 5 Entry. Hughes checked the section faces and backed the No.11 continuous mining machine out of the 5 Right Face area outby the last open crosscut in the No. 5 Entry. He did this so that he could clean-up and rock dust the face areas.

The No.11 continuous mining machine needed to be serviced and the methane monitor sensor replaced. Dodd assigned Gary Vaughn to help him grease the belt feeder while the victim, Gary Hays, helped rock dust. After Hays finished rock dusting, he was to start servicing the continuous mining machine.

About 2:30 a.m., Dodd went to the No.11 continuous mining machine to work on the methane monitor sensor. Hays had finished servicing the machine, except to fill the center gear case with oil. While Dodd was checking the methane sensor, he heard a "crack" and was knocked to the ground by the roof bolter cable and a piece of the fallen roof. When he got up, he saw that Hays was pinned under a large section of fallen roof material. He tried to lift the rock to free Hays, but could not free him. Dodd then ran to the belt feeder for help. Gary Vaughn, Mike and John Whitfield came to help Dodd lift the rock off of Hays. After Hays was freed, Vaughn, a registered EMT, administered first aid to Hays. Vaughn stated that Hayes was bleeding from the ears and mouth and was having difficulty breathing. He applied compresses to stop the bleeding and turned Hays on his side. When he did this, he said that Hays started to breathe better, but was unconscious. Hays was placed on a backboard and stretcher and transported out of the section to the surface. On the way out, they stopped at the 2D head drive, where an EMT kit with oxygen was located. Oxygen was administered to Hays until he was delivered to the Miller Ambulance Service on the surface. The ambulance service had already called the Life Flight Service due to possible head trauma. After Hays was stabilized he was air flighted to St. Marys Hospital in Evansville, Indiana. Mr. Hays succumbed to his injuries on May 23, 2001 at approximately 6:07 p.m.


The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Benton, Illinois, Field Office, District 8, was notified by Gene McGregor, President CMI, on Tuesday, May 22, 2001, at approximately 3:45 a.m., that a serious accident had occurred. Emergency personnel from Miller Ambulance Service and an Air Flight from Evansville, In. had been notified and quickly responded. After being informed of the accident, Wolfgang M. J. Kaak, Coal Mine Inspector and Kenneth S. Champley, Coal Mine Inspector, and Steve Kattenbraker, Coal Mine Inspection Supervisor, were dispatched to the scene, secured the accident site and issued a 103(k) order to ensure the safety of the miners.

When the team arrived at the mine site they made contact with the State of Illinois Mine Inspectors, Gary D. Roberts, Jerry Odle, and Tom Patterson. After interviewing the work crew, a joint inspection team of MSHA and the State of Illinois along with John Perkins, Miners Representative, James A. Tabor, CMI Safety Director, Terry Riley, CMI Safety Inspector, Gene McGregor, CMI President, Ken Ford, Mine Superintendent, and Allen Berry, Mine Manager, proceeded underground to the accident site.

MSHA and the State of Illinois conducted joint interviews of individuals who were known to have actual knowledge of the accident on May 25, 2001 at the Eagle Valley Mine office.

On May 30, 2001, Michael Gauna, Mining Engineer, and Sandin E. Phillipson, Geologist, from MSHA's Pittsburgh Safety and Health Technology Center arrived to assist in the investigation.


1. The maintenance work crew for the No. 2 Working Section entered the mine at 10:25 p.m. on May 21, 2001.

2. The foreman, Hughes, moved the No. 11 continuous mining machine from the face of the No. 5 Entry outby the last open crosscut so that the faces could be cleaned and rock dusted.

3. The victim, Hays, had finished servicing the No. 11 continuous mining machine, except for filling the center gear case with oil.

4. The lead repairman, Dodd, was repairing the methane sensor located on the left side of the mining machine behind the cutting head.

5. Dodd heard a �crack' and was knocked to the ground; when he got up he saw that Hays was pinned under a large section of roof.

6. The accident occurred at approximately 2:45 a.m. on May 22, 2001.

7. The main roof consists of sandy shale and sandstone. The immediate roof is dark gray shale, known locally as black shale. The height of the coal seam in this area is approximately five feet.

8. The rock that struck the victim was a piece of dark gray shale measuring 64 in. long by 34 in. wide by 9 in. thick. The fallen rock that caused the fatality was wedge-shaped, bounded by slickensides. The block of rock fell from the brow of a higher wedge-shaped slickensided roof cavity. This higher roof cavity had fallen out during previous mining.

9. The spacing of the installed roof bolts in the accident area were five feet; five feet four inches; five feet six inches; and five feet four inches. The current approved roof control plan requires the installed roof bolts to be installed on a maximum of five feet by five feet.

10. During the investigation, a roof survey was made of the mine and the No. 2 Section had a higher slickensided fault frequency than the rest of the mine.

11. A review of the training records showed that all required training was up- to-date.


The accident occurred when a wedge-shaped rock fell from the brow of a higher wedge-shaped roof cavity, pinning the victim between the fallen rock and the continuous mining machine. The victim sustained trauma to the head, resulting in fatal injuries. The roof bolt spacing in the accident area was a contributing factor to the accident.


The following citations/orders were issued to the mine operator due to conditions found during the investigation.

103(k) Order No. 7567553 was issued on May 22, 2001, and was terminated on May 22, 2001.

The mine experienced a fall-of-roof accident on the No. 2 Working Section. This order was issued to assure the safety of any persons in the affected area until an investigation is completed to determine that the conditions in the affected area are safe. Only those persons selected from company officials, state officials, miners' representative, and other persons who are deemed by MSHA to have information relevant to the investigation may enter or remain in the affected area.

104(a) Citation No. 7567554 for a violation of 30 CFR 75.220(a)(1) was issued on May 22, 2001, and terminated on May 23, 2001.

The operator was not following the approved roof bolt spacing at the accident area (2+75 survey station of the No.5 Entry) and at numerous locations inby the 3+00 survey station of the working section.

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin IconFAB01C08


Listed below are those persons who participated and/or were present during the investigation:

Gene McGregor .......... President
Ken Ford .......... Mine Superintendent
Allen Berry .......... Mine Manager
James A. Tabor .......... Safety Director
Terry Riley .......... Safety Inspector
Department of Natural Resources Office of Mines and Minerals
Tom Patterson .......... Inspection Supervisor
Gary D. Roberts .......... Inspector
Jerry Odle .......... Inspector
John Perkins .......... Local President
COAL MINERS, INC. - Employees
Joel Hughes .......... Foreman
Mike Whitfield .......... Belt Mechanic
Gary Vaughn .......... Section Mechanic
Gene Dodd .......... Lead Mechanic
Steven R. Kattenbraker .......... Supervisory Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Wolfgang M. J. Kaak .......... Mine Safety and Health Specialist
Kenneth Champley .......... Mine Safety and Health Specialist
Michael Gauna .......... Mining Engineer, Roof Control Division
Sandin E. Phillipson .......... Geologist, Roof Control Division