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Northeastern District


Przekopski Sand, Gravel & Farm ID No. 06-00647
Przekopski Sand, Gravel & Farm
Colchester, New London County, Connecticut

August 3, 1995


Michael J. Music
Supervisor Mine Safety and Health Inspector

John S. Patterson
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Northeastern District
Mine Safety and Health Administration
230 Executive Drive, Suite 2
Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania 16066-6415
James R. Petrie District Manager


Shawn Patrick Kiley, loader operator, age 29, was fatally injured at approximately 11:45 a.m., August 3, 1995. The front-end loader he was operating overturned into an excavation which he had recently completed. The victim had a total of 10 years experience as a heavy equipment operator. He had been employed by Przekopski Sand, Gravel and Farm for 1 year as a front-end loader operator.

Przekopski Sand, Gravel and Farm, a sand and gravel operation, was located in Colchester, New London County, Connecticut. The principal operating official was Leonard Przekopski, Jr., owner.

The plant normally operated Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturday 7:00 a.m. until 12:00 noon. The company employed a total of 3 persons, including the owner.

Sand and gravel was mined from various locations throughout the property in a pattern which followed the glacial till. Most of the mined product was processed through a double deck portable screen, which sorted it into various sizes of aggregate. Bank run sand and gravel, as well as processed aggregate, was loaded into customer trucks by front-end loader. Sand, gravel and topsoil were used by state and municipal entities, and local contractors for use in road building, septic systems, general construction use, winter road ice control, and various other uses.

MSHA had not conducted an inspection of this operation prior to the fatal accident due to the failure of the owner to notify the agency of commencement of mining activities. A regular inspection was conducted immediately following the accident investigation.


The accident occurred at the bottom of a 15-foot wide ramp, which had a grade of approximately 12 degrees. The ramp ended abruptly at the top edge of an excavation which measured approximatley 35 feet square by 16 feet deep. The ground around the edge of the excavation was unstable.

The victim was operating a Michigan 175 III A front-end loader, Serial Number 10 AHG130, manufactured in 1968. It was equipped with a 5-yard capacity bucket and an operator's cab, but was not provided with a rollover protective structure (ROPS) or a seat belt.

After the accident, Leonard Przekopski, Jr., owner, contracted for an independent inspection and testing of the loader's service brakes. This evaluation was conducted by Tyler Equipment Corporation, a local authorized dealer (see Appendix B). Inspection and testing by Tyler revealed that the brakes were functional except for a pencil-sized hole in the rubber diaphragm of the left-rear brake chamber. This rupture allowed for a substantial amount of air to be released upon application of the brakes. It could not be conclusively determined when this rupture had occurred. The diaphragm (Part Number PCN0234101) was manufactured in 1982.

After the accident, Przekopski stated that he had driven the loader on the same day before Kiley had arrived and that the brakes had functioned properly. Michael Koss, loader operator, who also worked for Przekopski and was on-site when the accident occurred, stated that he had used the subject loader about a year ago and, at that time, the brakes were good. Przekopski and Koss further stated that Kiley had not mention was having any problem with the brakes prior to the accident.


On the day of the accident, Shawn Kiley reported for work at 7:00 a.m., his regular starting time. Kiley was assigned to operate the Mitsubishi MS 140 excavator to extract gravel from a pit below the No. 1 Bench. Kiley drove the Michigan front-end loader in excess of 1/4 mile from the company garage down the steep, narrow gravel road to the pit area. He parked the loader and began operating the excavator to remove gravel from the pit.

At approximately 11:00 a.m., Kiley completed excavating. He then moved the excavator up the ramp to a level area and parked it. At approximately, 11:35 a.m., Leonard Przekopski, Jr., owner, instructed Kiley to use the Michigan front-end loader to carry sand fill material from a nearby bank and place it 25 feet from the edge of the newly excavated pit. Przekopski also told Kiley that the company's bulldozer would be used later to push the fill into the pit, as was done in a previous excavation.

Prior to dumping the fill material near the pit, Kiley used the Michigan loader to move two or three buckets of gravel from the pile he had just excavated to the top of the raw gravel stockpile. The ramp to the raw gravel stockpile was approximately 65 feet in length, with a grade ranging from 20 to 30 percent. Kiley traveled this ramp in the Michigan loader without incident. Kiley then began tramming fill to the pit as instructed. The accident occurred as he approached the pit on his first trip.

Michael Koss, loader operator, was loading customer trucks at the No. 2 Bench approximately 120 yards from the pit where Kiley was working. From his position, Koss could see Kiley working. Koss stated he did not see Kiley for a few minutes, so he decided to check on him. Upon arrival at the pit, Koss found that the Michigan loader had gone off the end of the ramp and overturned in the pit. Koss looked for Kiley and found him trapped in the overturned vehicle.

Koss immediately contacted Przekopski via the cellular phone from his loader and informed him of the accident. Przekopski then notified the Colchester Hayward Volunteer Fire Department/Rescue Squad, who responded along with the Connecticut State Police.

The location of the overturned vehicle, the crushed operator's cab, and the unstable pit bank, caused the rescue squad to work approximately 3 hours to recover Kiley. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Due to rescue activity immediately following the accident, extensive foot travel by rescue personnel, and equipment operation, it could not be determined if the loader went over the edge of the pit at an angle or straight forward. There were no witnesses to the accident.


The primary cause of the accident was failure to maintain a safe distance from the unstable bank of the pit. A contributing factor may have been the ruptured brake diaphragm which could have caused a loss of braking efficiency. It could not, however, be conclusively determined when the diaphragm failed.

MSHA regulation (56.14130) requires that wheeled loaders, such as the one involved in this accident, have ROPS and seat belts if manufactured on or after July 1, 1969.


Order No. 4426209 was issued under the provisions of Section 103(k) of the Mine Act on 8/3/95 to secure the safety of persons in the area.

The 103(k) order was terminated on 8/9/95, upon completion of the accident investigation.

Citation 4424845 was issued under the provisions of Section 104(a) on 8/4/95, for violation of 30 CFR 56.9301:

A berm, bumper block or other impeding device was not used to prevent over-travel at the ramp to the excavation (pit) where gravel had been extracted. A fatal accident occurred on August 3, 1995, when the operator lost control of the Michigan 175 III A front-end loader on the pit ramp while attempting to dump a bucket of back-fill for the excavation.

The citation was abated on 8/4/95, after the area was bermed to prevent access by vehicles.

Citation 4424846 was issued under the provisions of Section 104(a) on 8/8/95, for violation of 30 CFR 56.14101(a)1:

A fatal accident occurred on August 3, 1995, when the Michigan 175 III A, Serial No. 10AHG130 operated by the victim overturned into an excavation on the mine property.

When tested on August 8, 1995, the above machine main service brakes would not stop and hold the machine with no load on a level surface.

The citation was abated on 8/30/95, after a written statement was provided to MSHA stating that the machine would no longer be used on the mine property.

Respectfully submitted by:

/s/ Michael J. Music
Supervisory Mine Safety & Health Inspector

/s/ John S. Patterson
Mine Safety & Health Inspector

Approved by:

James R. Petrie
District Manager
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:

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