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Final Report - Fatality #11 - May 18, 2015

Accident Report: Fatality Reference

Fatality Overview


Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health


Surface Nonmetal Mine

Fatal Fall of Person Accident
May 18, 2015

Buzzi Unicem USA
Lone Star Quarry & Mill
Cape Girardeau, Cape Girardeau County, Missouri
Mine ID No. 23-00134


Keith S. Markeson
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office
Mine Safety and Health Administration
South Central District
1100 Commerce Street, Room 462
Dallas, TX 75242-0499
Michael Davis, District Manager



Gary Blackburn, Chemical Reclamation Services LLC., age 59, died May 29, 2015, after suffering a stroke and fall at the mine on May 18, 2015. 

On the day of the accident, Blackburn was delivering alternate fuel to the mine site.  After arriving, he backed his truck up to Bay #5 at the Alternate Fuels area.  Blackburn then exited the cab of his truck, opened the back doors of the trailer, and fell from the second step, while attempting to re-enter the cab of the truck, hitting his head on the ground.  The autopsy revealed that Blackburn died of intracranial hemorrhage with herniation.


Lone Star Quarry & Mill, a surface cement facility and adjacent quarry, owned and operated by Buzzi Unicem USA, is located in Cape Girardeau, Cape Girardeau County, Missouri.  The principal operating official is Massimo Toso, President/CEO.  William S. Leus, Plant Manager is the person in charge of health and safety at the mine.  The mine operates three 8-hour shifts per day, seven days per week.  Total employment at the mine is 150 persons.

At the Lone Star Quarry & Mill, limestone is drilled, blasted, hauled via truck and loader, and primary crushed in the adjacent pit.  The material is then transported to the plant via conveyor where it is pulverized, heated, and processed to produce cement.  Fuels and additives for the cement are delivered to the site via truck and barge and added to the process via conveyor and pipeline.  The finished product is stored in silos and transported to customers via rail, truck, and barge.

Chemical Reclamation Services, LLC, is a trucking company and a wholly owned subsidiary of Stericycle Environmental Solutions, located in Avalon, Texas that delivers alternate fuels to the plant.  Jody Mathers is Chemical Reclamation Services, LLC’s Health and Safety Manager.  Chemical Reclamation Services, LLC employs 81 persons and Stericycle Environmental Solutions employs approximately 15,000 persons nationwide.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) completed the last regular inspection at this operation on April 21, 2015.


On the day of the accident, May 18, 2015, Gary Blackburn (victim) started driving from Ennis, Texas at 7:10 a.m. and stopped for a rest at Malvern, Arkansas from 2:32 p.m. to 3:06 p.m., then continued to Cape Girardeau, Missouri where he arrived at the mine site at 8:17 p.m.  Upon arriving at the mine, he backed his truck into Bay #5 at the Alternate Fuels area.  He then exited his truck, a Kenworth T2000, and opened the rear doors of the van trailer.  Timothy Neislen, Alternate Fuels employee, witnessed Blackburn stop and lean against the side of the trailer near the wheels after opening the trailer doors.  Blackburn walked back to the cab of his truck and proceeded to climb the steps to re-enter the cab when he suddenly fell backwards onto the ground from the second step, striking the back of his head.

The fall was witnessed by Neislen and he immediately responded to Blackburn to render first aid.  David Robert, Alternate Fuels Supervisor, called 911.  Alternate Fuels employees Logan Mangel, William Wallace, and Jerimiah Keller assisted in first aid care and clearing the area for the arrival of Emergency Medical Services (EMS).  Plant employees Troy Littlepage, Bill Macke, and Walter Jones, Supervisor, met EMS at the gate and guided them to the accident scene.

EMS arrived at 8:37 p.m. and took control of the rescue operations.  Blackburn was conscious and was transported via ambulance to the Saint Francis Medical Center for further medical evaluation and treatment.  Blackburn died at the hospital on May 29, 2015 at 1:05 p.m., eleven days after the accident.  The cause of death was attributed to intracranial hemorrhage with herniation.


MSHA’s was notified of the accident by a telephone call, to the Department of Labor’s National Contact Center (DOLNCC) on May 19, 2015 at 5:36 p.m. from Shannon Moreland, Health and Safety Manager for the Lone Star Quarry & Mill.  The DOLNCC notified Elwood Burris, Staff Assistant for MSHA’s South Central District, 14 minutes later.  MSHA started the investigation on June 2, 2015 after MSHA received notification on June 1, 2015 that the victim had died.

MSHA’s accident investigator traveled to the plant, interviewed employees, and reviewed documents and work procedures relevant to the accident.  MSHA conducted the investigation with the assistance of mine management and employees, the victim’s employer, EMS staff, and the county coroner.



The accident occurred in the loading dock area of the Alternate Fuels area of the mine.  Alternate Fuels is located on the northern end of the plant facility near the road that separates the plant from the pit.  The loading dock is used to receive alternate fuels that arrive at the mine in barrels via truck.


The weather conditions on the day of the accident were partly cloudy with a temperature of 73 degrees Fahrenheit.  Weather was not considered to be a factor in the accident.

Physical Factors

Due to the time between the accident and the investigation, MSHA did not conduct a physical investigation of the accident scene.  The mine operator’s investigation showed no defects in the truck that would have contributed to the accident.

Gary Blackburn was wearing a hardhat while he was on mine property and had it on during the fall.  The hardhat came off when the back of his head hit the ground.

Training and Experience

Gary Blackburn (victim) had approximately 32 years, 7 weeks, and one day of experience as a truck driver and had worked for this company for 12 years, 7 weeks.  The review of site specific hazard training records, provided to Blackburn, were found to be in compliance with MSHA training requirements.


The victim, a vendor truck driver, fell and hit his head on the ground and later died of intracranial hemorrhage with herniation.


Issued to Buzzi Unicem USA

Citation No.8778900 - Issued June 8, 2015, under the provisions of section 104(a) of the Mine Act for a violation of 30 CFR 50.10(d):

The mine operator failed to contact MSHA at the toll-free number within 15-minutes after knowing that an accident had occurred at the mine. An accident occurred at this operation on 5/18/2015 at 20:15 and the call to MSHA was made on 5/19/2015 at 17:36 exceeding the 15-minute reporting requirement.




Approved: _____________________________________     Date: ____________

Michael A. Davis

District Manager