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Western District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health


Kiewit Pacific Company, Contractor ID No. IJM
Fort Knox Mine, ID No. 50-01616
Fairbanks Gold Mining, Inc.
Fairbanks, North Star Borough, Alaska

September 19, 1995


Robert Casey
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Western District Office
3333 Vaca Valley Parkway, Suite 600
Vacaville, California 95688
Fred M. Hansen
District Manager


Lorin McCorkindale, 27, was fatally injured when the water truck he was being trained to operate overturned. The trainer received minor injuries. The accident occurred at approximately 8:45 p.m., September 19, 1995, at the Fort Knox Mine, ID # 50-01616, a surface gold mine under development 25 miles northeast of Fairbanks, Alaska.

The Western District Manager, Fred M. Hansen, was notified of this accident at 10:50 p.m., September 19. An investigation was started the following day. Information for this report was obtained by evaluating the accident scene and interviewing company employees.

The Fort Knox Mine was operated by Fairbanks Gold Mining Company, Inc., a subsidiary of Amax Gold, Inc., of Englewood, Colorado. The mine was in a developmental stage, having opened May 5, l995. It was anticipated that production would begin in the fall of 1996. Most development work was being performed by contractors, with Morrison Knudsen Company of Boise, Idaho, being the prime contractor. Kiewit Pacific Company, of Vancouver, Washington, was engaged in the construction of a tailings dam, a fresh water dam, and other mining and milling facilities. The accident occurred at the tailings dam construction area and involved Kiewit Pacific Company employees.

There was a total of 560 individuals working at the minesite. Two hundred were employees of Kiewit Pacific. Work was performed during two twelve-hour shifts, seven days a week.

Principal mine officials were:

Fairbanks Gold Mining Company, Inc.

Kenneth Pohle, President
Warren Woods, Mine Superintendent
Dierk Brown, Administration Superintendent
Morrison Knudsen Company
Loren Ottonello, Project Manager
John Jones, Construction Manager
William Hooper, Safety Director
Timothy Rote, Night Superintendent
Kiewit Pacific Company
Bartlett Miller, Area Manager
Michael Lowe, Project Manager
Michael Crennan, Assistant Project Manager/Safety Director
Donald Fry, Night General Superintendent

Training for the Fort Knox Mine and Kiewit Pacific Company was conducted according to a plan approved by MSHA June 30, 1995.

The last regular inspection of this operation was conducted August 8-12, 1995.


The accident occurred on a main haul road near a tailings dam that was under construction. Near the toe of the dam the haul road narrowed to 45 feet as it bridged a 15 foot deep, 84 foot wide, v-cut ditch. The dirt fill supporting the haul road had sides with an approximate 1 1/2 to 1 slope, and a culvert to permit drainage. There were no berms along this section of the road. As the height of the dam increased the road was periodically elevated.

The vehicle involved in the accident was a 1978 Caterpillar Model 773 haul truck chassis, Company No. 19-692, serial # 63G2207. It carried an 11,000 gallon tank manufactured by Klein Products, Inc. The truck was approximately 13 feet wide, 15 feet high, and 27 feet long.

A rollover protective structure (ROPS) was neither required nor provided on this vehicle. However, the occupants were afforded some degree of protection by the water tank extending higher than the cab. The driver was wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident. Neither a stationary seat nor seat belt was provided for the passenger/task trainer. The right door was tied in the closed position with a rag.

The tires were in good condition and tie rods and connections were intact. Witnesses indicated that the brakes were operational. There had been some difficulties reported in placing the truck into reverse gear.

According to a Caterpillar dealer's representative, the lack of lift rams on the truck indicated that it was initially put into service as a water haul truck, rather than having been converted from the rock bed mode. The tank was equipped with baffles to limit water movement.

At the time of the accident the weather was fair with clear skies. It was becoming dusk and lighting plants had just been activated.

A right-hand traffic pattern was used at the mine.

The victim was about two hours into his first shift when the accident occurred. At the time he was being checked out on his driving skills by the company's driver/trainer.


Richard Guillaume, truck driver/trainer, reported for work at 7:00 p.m., his regular starting time, and was assigned to drive the Caterpillar Model 773 water truck. While at the pump/standpipe tank fill area, he encountered James McBride, Tailings Dam Superintendent, who was accompanied by a new hire, Lorin McCorkindale. Guillaume was told that McCorkindale would be riding and driving with him for training and evaluation purposes.

Guillaume drove the truck to the tailings dam construction area. He accomplished some watering and compaction work while orienting McCorkindale on traffic patterns and operational requirements of the water truck. According to Guillaume, after about an hour and a half McBride stopped them and asked if his trainee was ready to drive the truck. At that point McCorkindale began driving with Guillaume as his passenger. McCorkindale continued the compaction work on the dam. After about fifteen or twenty minutes, McBride returned and told them to go up the valley and water a parking area that was becoming dusty. One more compaction pass was made and then they started to the parking lot, with McCorkindale driving. He stopped on the right side of the dam to await the passage of a loaded Cat Model 777 material haul truck. The truck was coming down a grade and across the culvert area, which was not as wide as the general haul road.

Guillaume said he then told McCorkindale to pull out to the center of the road and proceed. As the truck began to move, the right front tire came close to the edge of the roadway causing the earth to crumble and the truck to lean. McCorkindale then applied the brakes, which may have created a water surge that caused additional weight to bear on the crumbling edge. The truck overturned coming to rest upside down at the bottom of the 15 foot deep, v-cut ditch. Grader operator Charles Strand witnessed the accident and said he could see the water truck was too close to the edge of the fill. He saw it begin to lean and overturn as it was still moving forward.

The truck and accompanying dirt apparently plugged the culvert. Water from the tank gushed out and rapidly filled the ditch and truck cab.

Guillaume said he had braced himself for the overturn and was upside down in the flooded cab when it came to rest. Sensing that his legs were above water, he managed to move his upper body into the airspace. He kicked out a front window but was unable to exit the crushed cab. He then kicked out the passenger side window and escaped after first trying to pull McCorkindale free.

Strand alerted McBride, who then ran to the accident scene along with others in the area. They assisted Guillaume and attempted to free McCorkindale.

A nearby Cat D-10 Dozer was immediately summoned. It was used to make two quick cuts to access the water truck, and then to push it up so that the cab was out of the water.

McCorkindale, pinned in the cab, was checked for life signs but none were found. The "Jaws of Life" were required in order to extricate him. Upon removal, EMT's attempted to revive him but the effort was unsuccessful and he was pronounced dead.

Guillaume was treated at the scene for shock and bruises. After his condition was stabilized he was taken to the hospital in Fairbanks. He received further treatment and was then released.

The preliminary autopsy report on McCorkindale indicated that he died instantly of massive head injuries. There was no evidence of drowning.


The accident occurred because the water truck was driven too close to the unbermed edge of the elevated roadway. Contributing to the accident may have been the inexperience of the driver, narrowing of the roadway, and an unstable edge to a steep embankment.


The following Citations and Orders were issued to Kiewit Pacific Company:

Order No.4133222, 103K, issued 9/20/95

A fatal accident occurred on September 19, 1995, at 9:45 p.m. when a Cat 773 water truck overturned on an embankment. This Order prohibits use of the area where the accident occurred until an investigation is conducted by MSHA.
Citation No. 4133223, 104(a), Section 56.9300(a), issued 9/20/95
There were no berms on the main haul road where it crossed a V-shaped ditch that was 84 feet in width. The road, fifteen feet Above the bottom of the ditch had sides with a 1 1/2 to 1 slope. At 45 feet in width, this was the narrowest section of the haul road.
Citation No. 4133224, 104(a), Section 56.9303, issued 9/20/95
The material and/or design of the haul road where it ramps across a culvert was not sufficient to support the loads using it. The edge of the ramp gave way causing an overturn of a Cat water haul truck, resulting in fatal injuries to its driver, and minor injuries to an accompanying trainer.
Citation No. 4133226, 104(a), Section 56.9200(d), issued 9/23/95
Provisions were not made for secure travel on the Cat Model 773 water haul truck No. 19-692, (SN63G2207) in that a bucket with padding was used to seat the trainer.
Citation No. 4133227, 104(a), Section 14100(b), issued 9/23/95
The passenger door on the Cat Model 773 water haul truck No. 19-692, (SN63G2207), was tied closed with a rag, as its latch was inoperable. The truck was involved in a rollover accident in which the trainer had to kick the window glass out of the right door in order to exit the flooding truck.

Fort Knox Gold Mine, ID No. 50-01616-IJM

Respectfully submitted by:

/s/ Robert G. Casey
Mine Safety & Health Inspector

Approved by:

Fred M. Hansen
District Manager
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:

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