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District 9

(Underground Coal Mine)

Fatal Powered Haulage Accident

Soldier Canyon Mine (ID No. 42-00077)
Canyon Fuel Company, LLC
Wellington, Carbon, Utah

May 20, 1997


Archie L. Bailey
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector


Jerry O.D. Lemon
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
Coal Mine Safety and Health, District 9
P.O. Box 25367, Denver, CO 80225-0367
John A. Kuzar, District Manager


On Tuesday, May 20, 1997, at approximately 2:35 p.m., Ryan Reay, utility man, was fatally injured while operating a Wagner ST-3 1/2 S diesel scoop in the 3rd North Main Intake roadway at the 1st East "old" belt conveyor overcast. Reay, 30 years old, was crushed between the scoop canopy supports and the instrument control panel when the scoop lost power and descended an approximate 21 to 24.5% grade into an I-beam of the overhead belt conveyor overcast. At the time of the accident, Reay was using the scoop to push an empty five-ton capacity bulk rock dust trailer out of the mine. The scoop stalled on the grade due to low fuel. The brakes failed to hold the scoop and it traveled down the grade approximately 65 feet into the overcast.


The Solider Canyon Mine is an underground coal mine owned and operated by Canyon Fuel Company, LLC (65% ARCO and 35% Itochu). The mine is located approximately 22 miles northeast of Price, Carbon County, Utah, in the Bookcliff Coal Field. The mine is opened by six drift openings, one intake slope, one return slope and one return shaft into the Rock Canyon and Sunnyside coal seams. Employment is provided for 98 persons underground and 5 persons on the surface. The mine produces coal on three shifts per day five days per week.

The mine is ventilated with two Joy Axivane exhaust fans. The number one fan ventilates the active West Mains and the number two fan ventilates the active Third North area of the Rock Canyon and Sunnyside coal seams. The average pitch in both seams is about 7.5% to the north with a maximum depth of cover of 2000 feet.

The mine liberates an average of 2,347,757 cubic feet of methane per day, causing it to be on a five-day 103(i) spot inspection.

The mine utilizes three radio remote control Joy continuous mining machines for section development and retreat mining. Electric shuttle cars are used to haul coal from the faces to the conveyor belt load point. Diesel equipment is used for man trips, hauling material, mine maintenance, and cleanup.

A regular safety and health inspection by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) was in progress at the time of the accident.

The principal management officers at the mine were:
R.W. Olsen...........................................General Manager
Ray T. Bridge........................................Safety Manager
Kirt Tatton............................................Maintenance Superintendent
Lydell Overson......................................Production Superintendent


On Tuesday May 20, 1997, crews arrived at 7:00 a.m. for the start of day shift. Lydell Overson, mine foreman, assigned Ryan Reay laborer/utility man and victim, to haul rock dust into the mine to dust assigned areas and to bring out used belt material. Reay used a Wagner ST-3 1/2 S scoop, serial number DAO-4P0 641, and a five-ton capacity bulk rock dust trailer for these assignments.

Reay carried out his assignments without incidence until about 2:35 p.m. At this time, Reay was exiting the mine with the Wagner scoop pushing the empty rock dust trailer up an approximate 21 to 24.5% grade in the 3rd North Main intake roadway. The diesel scoop was traveling in the reverse direction with the radiator end next to the rock dust trailer. The operator's seat in the scoop was placed sideways, facing the center of the machine, such that Reay could see forward or reverse by turning his head either right or left.

Just prior to the accident, Reay was observed in the diesel scoop, stopped at the crest of the grade approximately 60 feet outby the accident site. Shortly after this, the diesel scoop, with Reay in the operator's seat, traveled back down the approximate 21 to 24.5% grade. The scoop bucket contacted the left rib under the 1st East belt conveyor overcast causing the scoop and canopy to be raised into a steel I-beam on the bottom of the overcast. The impact tore loose three legs on the scoop canopy and forced the canopy against Reay causing fatal crushing injuries. The scoop then came to rest in the left side of the roadway under the overcast.

Frank McBride, fireboss, was the first person to arrive at the scene within minutes after the accident. McBride could not find a pulse on the victim. He immediately ran to a pager phone and notified mine management and summoned certified EMT's. Several EMT's arrived at the scene and could not find any signs of life. Reay was removed from the diesel scoop and transported to the Castle View Hospital, Price, UT, where he was pronounced dead by the attending physician.

MSHA was immediately notified and an investigation was started the same day.


  1. The accident occurred on a 21% to 24.5% grade. The Wagner ST-3 1/2 S scoop was pushing an empty 5-ton capacity rock dust trailer up the grade with the scoop bucket full of scrap rollers.

  2. The Wagner diesel scoop weighed approximately 39,735 lbs. It was about 27 feet 10 inches long by 6 feet wide. The scoop was about 5 feet 2 inches (62 inches) high to the top of the canopy when measured from the ground level to the top of the machine frame.

  3. An exposed 6-inch I-beam was located in the 1st East belt conveyor overcast. This beam was 85.8 inches above the roadway surface. The clearance between the 6-inch I-beam and the top of the diesel scoop was 23.8 inches. Four I-beams were located in the bottom of the overcast, which was constructed with cinder blocks.

  4. The rock dust trailer, a MD-4A Long Airdox Duster Trailer, was 15 feet 10 inches long by 7 feet wide by 55 inches high. It was designed with four wheels one of which was missing.

  5. The height from the roadway surface to the outby side of the overcast was:

    1. 79 1/2 inches on the left side.
    2. 77 inches on the right side.

    The roadway was lightly graveled and mostly level, to within 2 1/2 inches left to right. It was damp to wet.

  6. The canopy on the diesel scoop had four, 3-inch square solid steel legs, with a 1-inch thick steel plate top. The top measured about 38 inches long by 34 1/2 inches wide. The canopy was appropriately designed for downward vertical loads. The horizontal and vertical loads created by the impact of the diesel scoop with the I-beam caused the welds on three canopy support posts to fail. Reay was found crushed between the left support leg and the control panel.

  7. The Wagner diesel scoop was equipped with three Parker fluid power hydraulic accumulators, and a single accumulator charging valve. Looking at the bucket end of the machine, the left accumulator was used for the front wheel brakes. The right accumulator was for the rear wheel brakes, and the center accumulator was the main accumulator.

  8. The service brakes were hydraulic applied wet disks, located at each wheel of the diesel scoop. The emergency park brake was a disk brake mounted on the drive shaft. The park brake was oil cooled, fully spring applied, and air released in the transmission.

  9. Tests on the braking systems found that the left brake accumulator and the center main accumulator would not hold the applied nitrogen charge. It was noted using the pressure gauges attached that the fluid pressure bled back past the cylinder which causes the pressure to build in the accumulator. Therefore, the brakes would not hold properly. Pull tests both underground and on the surface demonstrated that both brakes let the vehicle wheels turn.

  10. Tests of the emergency brake's effectiveness were conducted near the accident scene on a flat grade. With the emergency park brake applied, the diesel scoop trammed through all three gears, forward and reverse.

  11. The transmission had three gears in forward and reverse. It was a Clark Model C-21 transmission with a single stage 3.1:1 torque converter.

  12. The diesel scoop was articulated in front of the operator's cab.

  13. An examination of the scoop at the accident scene found the transmission control lever in reverse, 1st gear.

  14. The fuel tank contained 4 inches of fuel, about 6.6 gallons. It was estimated to hold 34 gallons, when full. The scoop was not equipped with a fuel gauge. Fuel useage was judged by hours of operation after fueling. The intake and return fuel lines on the fuel tank were on the left side of the scoop facing the bucket. On the roadway grade, the intake line was positioned on the up-grade side of the fuel tank causing the fuel to be down angle at 21 to 24.5% away from the intake fuel port. During the investigation the scoop would not start until fuel was added to the tank. Ten gallons of fuel were added before the machine started.

  15. The welding penetration was substandard where the canopy legs connected to the diesel scoop frame, and where the legs were welded to the canopy. This was ascertained by observations made by Inspectors Bailey and Lemon, and by Michael P. Sheridan, Professional Engineer, Denver Safety and Health Technology Center.

  16. During rescue efforts, it was observed that the emergency stop button was engaged. The emergency button may have been actuated by Reay prior to the accident or may have been a result of Reay's impact into the control panel. It should be noted that the emergency park brake failed to pass the recommended tests as it was out of adjustment due to wear.

  17. The records of examinations required by 30 CFR were reviewed and no deficiencies were noted. Other equipment observed appeared in safe condition.

  18. Reay's training records indicated that he was task trained on the Wagner scoop. Interviews with other equipment operators indicated Reay was fully experienced on the scoop.


The accident occurred in part, due to management's failure to maintain the braking systems on the Wagner diesel scoop. The emergency park brake system would not hold the diesel scoop within the manufacture's recommended specifications. The main service brake would not effectively stop the scoop because two of the three hydraulic accumulators would not hold the manufacture's recommended charge.

Low fuel in the scoop's tank caused the fuel pump to cavitate from lack of fuel, which in turn caused the diesel engine to shut down, allowing the scoop to descend the incline.

Loss of clearance under the overcast resulted from the diesel scoop contacting the bench on the outby left side of the overcast. This elevated the scoop causing the canopy to strike the overcast resulting in damage to the canopy. The low overhead clearance was not marked to identify this overcast as a potentially dangerous area.


A 103(k) Order No. 3586245 was issued on May 20, 1997, to ensure the safety of the miners until an investigation could be conducted.

A 104(a) S&S Citation No. 4526012 was issued on August 12, 1997, for a violation of 30 CFR, 75.1725(a), for not maintaining the scoop's braking systems in safe operating condition.

A 314(b) Safeguard No. 7633006 was issued on June 26, 1997, for no lights or reflective material installed at abrupt changes in the overhead clearance along haulroads.

Submitted by:

Archie L. Bailey
CMS&H Inspector, District 9

Jerry O. D. Lemon
CMS&H Inspector, District 9

Approved by:

Archie D. Vigil
Assistant District Manager for Enforcement
CMS&H, District 9

John A. Kuzar
CMS&H, District 9
District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB97C12