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District 6

Surface Coal Mine


Mine No. 5 ( I.D. No. 15-17429)
Davella, Martin County, Kentucky

September 12, 1995

Buster Stewart
Coal Mine Safety and Health Specialist

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
100 Ratliff Creek Road, Pikeville, Kentucky 41501
Carl E. Boone, II - District Manager


Mine No. 5 of Mountaintop Restoration, Inc., is a surface coal mine located on the Cumberland River Coal Company mining complex off State Route 3, near Davella, Martin County, Kentucky. The principal company officers are B. W. McDonald, president and Herbert Swiger, secretary.

The surface mine utilizes the contour method of mining to extract coal from two seams. The coal seams being mined are the No. 5 Block, with an average thickness of 72 inches, and the Stockton which ranges in thickness from 48 to 50 inches.

The mine employs 29 miners and normally operates two shifts per day, six days per week. Average daily coal production is 1,500 tons.

The overburden is removed from the coal seams utilizing highwall drills, bulldozers, front-end loaders and rock trucks. The coal is then transported by contracted trucks to a coal loading facility located on the mining complex.

The last regular Health and Safety Inspection conducted by the Mine Safety and Health Administration was completed on June 6, 1995.


On Wednesday, September 12, 1995, the day shift crew under the supervision of David Lykins, mine superintendent, began work at approximately 6:00 a.m. Lykins assigned work duties for the day. Randy J. Kidd (victim) was assigned his regular duties as the operator of a front-end loader used to load coal trucks. Work progressed normally throughout the shift. At approximately 5:00 p.m., Kidd returned to the company parking area. Kidd left the parking area in his private vehicle, a 1987 Toyota pickup truck, traveling en route off mine property via the coal haulage/access roadway. Approximately four and one half miles (4 1/2) west of the parking area, Kidd met an empty DM 800 Mack coal truck, owned and driven by William Jessie Robinette, traveling toward him. Robinette was returning to the active coal pit to pick up a load of coal. Based on information provided by Robinette, he was traveling in the center of the roadway when he observed the Toyota pickup truck approaching him traveling on the right side (from Robinette's sitting position). Robinette stated he steered to his left to allow the pickup truck to pass on his right side. The pickup truck then steered in the same direction and started to skid sideways. The coal truck struck the pick-up truck in the left side and pushed it approximately 30 feet from the point of impact before it came to rest on the berm of the road. Kidd was trapped inside the pickup truck. Robinette summoned help via citizen's band radio. The Martin County Ambulance and Rescue Squad responded to the call and arrived on scene at 5:39 p.m. Kidd was extricated from the vehicle, and shortly thereafter, he and Robinette were transported via ambulance to Highlands Regional Medical Center located near Prestonsburg, Kentucky. Robinette was treated for shock and released. Kidd was examined and then air lifted to the University of Tennessee Hospital located at Knoxville, Tennessee, where he was pronounced dead upon arrival.


The investigation revealed the following factors relevant to the accident.

  1. William J. Robinette was the only witness to the accident.

  2. Robinette owned and operated the 1991 Mack DM -800 coal truck hauling coal from the Mine No. 5 to the Cumberland River Coal Company preparation plant located on the mining complex. Robinette had obtained an MSHA-assigned contractor identification number; TZF.

  3. The coal haulage/access roadway consisted of a smooth graveled surface in excess of 50 feet in width in the vicinity of the accident. The road was on a relatively level grade but crowned approximately 24 inches in the middle to promote drainage.

  4. There were no traffic signs or signals posted to indicate the proper direction of travel or speed limit for traffic on the road.

  5. Interviews conducted during the investigation revealed that coal trucks normally traveled in the center of the roadway. This was due to a crown in the center of the roadway. Statements during the investigation revealed that, on occasion, vehicles passed oncoming vehicles on the right side. Robinette stated the victim had passed him in this manner on previous occasions.

  6. Robinette stated the coal truck he was driving was traveling between 25 and 30 miles per hour when he observed the pickup truck coming toward him. He could not estimate the speed of the pickup truck other than to say he believed the pickup truck was traveling faster than his vehicle.

  7. Visibility at the time of the accident was not affected by weather or road conditions.

  8. Measurements were taken of the tire skid marks of both vehicles at the scene. The visible tire skid marks of the pickup truck measured 96 feet in length. The visible tire skid marks of the coal truck measured 87 feet in length.

  9. The 1987 Toyota pickup truck sustained significant damage to the left side (driver's side) grill, front and rear quarter panels, and door. The impact resulted in the firewall, dash and steering column being pushed back, trapping the victim in the cab. The "jaws-of-life" were used to extricate the victim.

  10. The 1991 Mack DM-800 coal truck sustained damage to the grill, left front fender, front bumper, radiator, and driving lights.

  11. The certificate of death listed the cause of death as massive trauma.


A fatal surface haulage accident occurred on the coal haulage/access road when the Toyota pickup truck, driven by the victim, and the DM 800 Mack coal truck collided. The coal truck driver steered his coal truck to the left side of the road believing that the pickup truck was going to pass him on his right side. At the same time, the pickup driver apparently turned to his right which resulted in the pickup truck and the coal truck traveling on the same side of the road toward each other. The two vehicles collided resulting in the pickup truck driver receiving fatal injuries.

A contributing factor to the accident was the absence of traffic rules, signals or other visible means posted to govern the flow or speed of traffic on this road.


  1. A 103 K Order of withdrawal, Number 4513093 issued on September 12, 1995, in conjunction with the investigation.

  2. A 104-A Citation, Number 4517269 was issued because the coal haulage/access road was not provided with traffic signs to indicate the flow and speed of traffic, a violation of 30 CFR, 77.1600 - b.

Respectfully submitted by:

Buster Stewart
Coal Mine Safety and Health Specialist

Approved by:

Carl E. Boone II
District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB95C30]