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Rocky Mountain District
Metal & Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health


Oracle Ridge Mine
I.D. No. 02-00840
Oracle Ridge Mining Partners
San Manuel, Pinal County, Arizona

December 24, 1995


William Tanner, Jr.
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Michael S. Okuniewicz
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office
P.O. Box 25367 DFC
Denver, CO 80225-0367
Robert M. Friend
District Manager


Arthur Owen Koontz, underground miner/truck driver, age 41, was fatally injured at approximately 8:50 p.m., on December 24, 1995. Koontz left his truck while it was moving and was crushed between the truck and rib. He was subsequently run over by the driver's side rear tire. He had a total of 11 years mining experience with 4 months and 10 days experience at this mine. He received task training on the type of truck he was driving on September 9, 1995. Total experience as a truck driver at this mine was 14 weeks.

Larry Aubuchon, supervisory mine safety and health inspector, Mesa, Arizona Field Office, was notified of the accident on December 25, 1995, at 12:30 p.m., by Rene A. Tourigny, vice president, Oracle Ridge Mining Partners. An investigation was started on December 26, 1995.

Oracle Ridge Mine was an underground copper operation located 20 miles southwest of San Manuel, Pinal County, Arizona. The mine was owned and operated by Oracle Ridge Mining Partners and had been in continuous operation since 1987. Mine employment consisted of 40 persons underground and 54 on the surface. The work schedule was 7 days a week, 3 shifts a day, 8 hours per shift.

Ore was drilled and blasted in open stopes, then loaded and hauled to the surface by trucks. On the surface the ore was processed at the primary crusher and mill where it was concentrated. The concentrate was shipped to a nearby smelter for final processing.

Operating officials were:

Rene A. Tourigny, Vice President
Murray D. Strachan, Superintendent
LeRoy V. Watson, Safety Supervisor

The training plan required under 30 CFR, Part 48, Subpart A was approved on March 24, 1992.

The last regular inspection of this operation was conducted October 16-26, 1995.


The underground haul truck involved in the accident was a 1991, 15-ton John Clark, Inc., Model 1504 haul truck, Serial No. 82290. The truck a was 4-wheel drive, articulating rear dump with joy stick steering. Total length of the truck was 22 feet, 8 inches. At the time of the accident the truck was loaded with approximately 15 tons of copper ore.

Location of the accident was on the 6385 level of the main haulage ramp to the 5900 portal. The main haulage ramp grade was approximately 8 percent and measured 14 feet wide by 10 to 12 feet in height and 260 feet long. The roadway surface was dry and well maintained. Scrape marks found on the rib indicated the truck first made contact with the rib on the driver's side approximately 220 feet down the ramp. Evidence indicated that the victim had been rolled by the truck against the rib and run over by the rear truck tire.

Tire tracks observed along the left rib of the haulage ramp indicated that the truck did not deviate while traveling down the ramp.

Examination and testing of the John Clark haulage truck revealed that all braking systems were capable of holding the truck on the ramp. The steering system was in good working order.


Arthur Owen Koontz (victim) reported for work at 3:00 p.m., December 24, 1995. Clifford Hayden supervisor, instructed Koontz and Hector Campa, truck driver, to haul ore from the A-2 development heading to the ore pass on the 6400 level.

Due to a shortage of employees, Hayden loaded trucks with a load- haul-dump unit. At approximately 5:30 p.m., Hayden noticed that Koontz was having difficulty backing his truck into the proper position to be loaded. Hayden called Koontz to his loader and asked if he had a problem, and if he had been drinking. Koontz answered "No, I'm doing the best I can". Hayden then approached Koontz close enough to smell his breath. There was no indication that Koontz had been drinking. Hayden loaded Koontz's truck three more times and detected no further problems.

After removing ore from the blasted round, Hayden left the development heading to check on other work areas and then proceeded to the surface to do office work.

Hayden later returned underground at about 8:00 p.m., and he saw Koontz with the crew while they were eating lunch. Hayden did not notice anything unusual about Koontz's behavior, however, he didn't talk with Koontz. Hayden left the sump area to complete other assignments.

Koontz left the lunch area and continued with his loaded truck down the 6385 main ramp to the outside crusher area. The truck drivers had been informed earlier that the ore pass they were dumping into was blocked and they would have to dump outside.

At approximately 9:00 p.m., Emilio Lopez, mechanic, entered the mine on a tractor. As Lopez approached the top of the 6385 ramp he noticed lights from a vehicle at the bottom of the ramp. Lopez pulled over to the side to give right-of-way to the uphill traffic. After briefly waiting, Lopez noticed that the lights on the vehicle he observed were not moving. He proceeded down the ramp to see if the equipment operator was having trouble.

As Lopez approached the vehicle he noticed that Koontz's truck was in a precarious position in that the truck was against a small berm almost touching the rib. Lopez looked around for the operator and found Koontz lying in the intersection of the ramp, 14 feet behind the truck. Lopez returned to his tractor to summon help. He noticed lights from another vehicle approaching the top of the ramp. Lopez signaled with his lights to the operator of the other vehicle. Robert Howard, lead miner, joined Lopez at the accident scene and evaluated Koontz's injuries. He detected no vital signs. Howard then walked over to the truck that Koontz had been operating and shut off the engine and set the park brake.

At about 9:15 p.m., Campa arrived at the accident scene. After hearing what had occurred he used a nearby mine phone to call outside to report the accident to company officials.

Koontz was pronounced dead by the Coroner at approximately 12:30 a.m., on December 25, 1995, and transported to Tucson, Arizona.


The direct cause of the accident was the victim's failure to control the truck while it was in motion. A contributing factor was that the truck operator was driving under the influence of alcohol. Toxicology tests of the victim's blood revealed a blood alcohol content of 0.258 g/100 ml. (Note: 0.10 is considered legally impaired).


The following order was issued during the investigation:

Order No. 3935223, 103 (k)

Issued 12/25/95 at 1230 hours.

A fatal accident occurred on the 6385 level and main ramp area at approximately 8:50 p.m., 12/24/95. The operator of the #413 haulage truck was run over by his truck. Work is to cease in the affected area and barricaded from entry pending an MSHA investigation.

Terminated 12/26/95 at 1943 hours.

The following citations were issued during the investigation:

Citation No. 3908719, 104 (a)

Issued 1/22/96 at 0802 hours for a violation of 30 CFR, Part 57.9101.

A haul truck operator was fatally injured on 12/24/95 at approximately 8:50 p.m. The victim was crushed between the mine rib and the truck he was operating. The truck operator did not maintain control of the truck while it was in motion. The accident occurred at the 6385 level ramp.

Citation No. 4410581, 104 (a)

Issued 1/22/96 at 0817 hours for a violation of 30 CFR, Part 57.20001.

A haul truck operator was fatally injured at approximately 8:50 p.m., on 12/24/95. The truck operator was crushed between a rib on the 6385 level ramp and the truck he was operating. The rear wheel of the truck then ran over the victim. Test results revealed a blood alcohol content of .258, indicating that the victim was intoxicated.

Respectfully submitted by:

/s/ William Tanner, Jr.
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector

/s/ Michael S. Okuniewicz
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by,

Robert M. Friend
District Manager
Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB95M50]