Skip to content

District 9

(Underground Coal Mine)

Fatal Powered Haulage Accident

Bear Canyon # 2 (ID No. 42-02095)
C.W. Mining Co. (Co-op Mine)
Huntington, Emery County, Utah

August 24, 1997


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

Bruce Andrews
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, Colorado 80225-0367
John A. Kuzar, District Manager


Bear Canyon #2 is an underground coal mine, located nine miles northwest of Huntington, Emery County, Utah, adjacent to State Highway 31. The mine opened in 1994, and is owned and operated by C.W. Mining Co. (Co-op Mine).

The mine has three drifts into the Tank coal seam, which has a variable thickness of 4 to 9 feet. The mine has one active development and one active retreat pillar working sections, both of which use remote-controlled Joy 14CM15 continuous mining machines, Joy shuttle cars, Lee Norse TD-142 single-boom roof bolting machines, and belt haulage. A Fletcher DDR-13-B-CW double-boom roof bolting machine is used to install supplemental supports.

The mine employs 44 underground miners and 27 surface employees, and has a daily production of approximately 982 tons of coal. The mine works two 9-hour production shifts and one 9-hour overlapping maintenance shift each day, 7 days per week. The mine liberates negligible amounts of methane.

In the area of the accident, main entries had been previously developed and room and pillar retreat mining methods were being utilized. The immediate roof consisted of a 3-foot layer of sandstone with clay-filled joints overlain by a 1-inch layer of coal. The main roof consisted of a massive layer of sandstone. The average mining height was 7 feet and the average mining width was 19 feet.

The last regular safety and health inspection at this mine was completed by the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) on July 23, 1997.

The principal officials at the mine are:
Ken Defa.................................Superintendent
Cyril Jackson..........................Safety Director


On Sunday, August 24, 1997, at approximately 3:00 p.m., the afternoon shift crew under the supervision of the acting section foreman, Bryan Owen, entered the mine and traveled to the North Bleeder Retreat Pillar active working section. The crew arrived on the section about 3:30 p.m. and went to the kitchen while Owen examined the pillar line. The crew then received work assignments and performed normal duties as they completed the number 5 and 6 cuts and started the number 7 cut on the number 5 pillar.

At about 5:45 p.m., Owen told Cyril Jackson, continuous mining machine operator and certified mine foreman, that he was leaving the section to check on another problem. Jackson was operating the continuous mining machine with a remote control unit. At about 6:23 p.m., the men working on the section observed indications of the roof working, saw timbers breaking and/or felt an air blast and heard a roof fall. The number 11 off-standard shuttle car had just been fully loaded. Approximately two feet of rock fell on the continuous mining machine beginning at the cab and extending inby. The continuous mining machine helper, Samuel Jenkins (victim), Jackson and the shuttle car (operated by Darren Jenkins) started moving rapidly outby from the caving pillar split. Jackson stated that Jenkins slipped/tripped and fell in front of the shuttle car. Jackson yelled at the shuttle car operator to stop.

Samuel Jenkins was crushed in an approximate 6-inch opening between the cable reel compartment and the mine floor. Jackson, a certified EMT, checked for vital signs but could find none. Jackson told the shuttle car operator to slowly move the shuttle car in an unsuccessful attempt to free the victim. Jackson then utilized the hydraulic jack mounted on the shuttle car to lift the car high enough to free Jenkins.

Two crew members were sent to phone outside for an ambulance and the victim was placed on a stretcher and transported to the surface. The Emery County ambulance crew transported Jenkins to the Castleview Hospital, Price, Utah, where he was pronounced dead by the attending physician.

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


  1. The North Bleeder Pillar section, MMU 003-0, comprises 13 entries with 12 pillar blocks that are mined in a left to right sequence. Eight rows of pillar blocks had been mined. The accident occurred during the number 7 cut on the number 5 pillar. The overburden cover at the accident site was approximately 900 feet. The height of the coal seam at the pillar split was approximately 76 inches.

  2. The shuttle car involved in the accident was a Joy 10 SC 32-56BXHE-5, serial number ET 16856, company number 11. The shuttle car operator's compartment was on the side opposite of the cab on the continuous mining machine. A side board approximately six inches high and twelve feet long had been added to the conveyor on the operator's side of the shuttle car. The operator's seat had been lowered to the floor of the shuttle car because of the canopy height. This situation created a zero visibility condition as it related to the side of the shuttle car opposite the operator where the continuous mining machine operator and helper were located.

  3. The required illumination lights on the off-standard shuttle car were operational and the continuous mining machine operator and helper had the required reflective tape on their hard hats.

  4. There was excessive rib sloughage on the left corner of the number 6 pillar and there were excessive accumulations of loose coal on the floor of the entry between the number 5 and 6 pillar blocks where the accident occurred. Citations for accumulations of loose coal were issued under a separate event and inspection code.

  5. There were seven miners on the crew and five of the seven miners were part time employees with limited mining experience. The victim had approximately 23 days of total mining experience. The off-standard shuttle car operator had approximately one year of total mining experience.

  6. The number 6 pillar had been split completely through from the number 7 entry to the number 6 entry prior to completing mining on the number 5 pillar. This procedure contributed to the premature initiation of a cave that extended onto the continuous mining machine. The split in the number 5 pillar was perpendicular to the split in the number 6 pillar. This sequence was contrary to the approved roof control plan and left an opening on the right side of the continuous mining machine operator and helper as the number 6 and 7 cuts were made in the number 5 pillar.

  7. The pillar cave extended onto the top of the continuous mining machine motivating the continuous mining machine operator, helper and the shuttle car operator to rapidly exit the area.

  8. The victim had received all required part 48 training.


The number 6 pillar had not been split in accordance with the approved roof control plan. The pillar cut sequence contributed to a premature cave initiation. Loose coal in the roadway leading into the number 7 cut in the number 5 pillar presented a slipping/tripping hazard. The installation of a spill board on the conveyor and the position of the seat in the operator's compartment of the number 11 shuttle car resulted in a zero visibility condition concerning the location of the continuous mining machine operator and helper. As the cave extended onto the top of the continuous mining machine, the victim started running outby past the shuttle car, slipped/tripped on loose coal, fell under the moving shuttle car and was crushed between the cable reel compartment of the shuttle car and the mine floor.


A 103(k) Order No. 7633017 dated August 24, 1997, was issued to ensure the safety of the miners until an investigation could be conducted.

A 104(d)(1) Order No. 4890930 dated August 25, 1997, was issued for a violation of 30 CFR 75.220(a)(1) for not following the approved roof control plan. By not following the approved cut sequence, a premature cave was initiated causing the victim to rapidly flee from the area, slip/trip and fall under or in the path of the shuttle car.

Citations were issued for accumulations of loose coal and other violations under a separate event and inspection code.

Submitted by:

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

William M. Taylor for Bruce Andrews
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by:

Archie D. Vigil
Assistant District Manager

John A. Kuzar
District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB97C23