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C. C. Meisel, Inc. (Contractor ID. 6PB)


Dayton Sand and Gravel (Mine ID No. 35-00480)
Dayton Sand and Gravel Co.
McMinnville, Yamhill County, Oregon

May 5, 1997


Arnold E. Pederson
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

James Zingler
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Mine Safety and Health Administration
Western District
3333 Vaca Valley Parkway, Suite 600
Vacaville, California 95688

James M. Salois
District Manager


John W. Zimmerman, maintenance person, age 56, drowned at about 9:45 a.m. on May 5, 1997, while preparing to dewater a pond. Zimmerman worked for C. C. Meisel for 28 years. He worked at this location for the past 11 years. Zimmerman had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR Part 48.

Catherine Lloyd, C.C. Meisel, Inc. office manager, notified MSHA at about 11:30 a.m., the day of the accident. An investigation was started the same day.

Dayton Sand and Gravel mine, an open pit aggregate operation, was owned and operated by Dayton Sand and Gravel Co. The mine was located about 6 1/2 miles southeast of Dayton, Yamhill County, Oregon. The principal operating official was Harold W. Burch, president.

At Dayton Sand and Gravel mine, aggregate was removed from the river bed by a dozer and front-end loader. The mined material was then hauled by dump truck to a stockpile and stored until being trucked to the plant which was located in Dayton, Oregon. The company had 23 employees who usually worked at the plant. When the need for aggregate arose, two or more employees worked at the mine, normally eight hours per day, five days a week until the need was satisfied.

C.C. Meisel, performing as a contractor for Dayton Sand and Gravel, was a four-employee operation which normally operated one ten-hour shift, six days a week. The principal operating official was Lloyd A. Town, vice-president and general manager.

A regular inspection was completed on April 10, 1997. Following the accident, a regular inspection was completed on July 2, 1997.


The pond where the accident occurred was about 500 feet by 250 feet and averaged 12.5 feet in depth. A floating pump barge was located at the northwest end of the pond.

The victim intended to use an aluminum, flat bottom work boat manufactured by Crestliner Boat Co. The boat was 10 feet long, 4 feet 6 inches wide and had a capacity of 250 lbs. A Minnkota electric motor was mounted on the stern and a disconnected battery was on the boat floor. An ice chest with tools inside, a five gallon plastic pail, a small tool box, and an oar were in the boat. The total estimated weight of the load and the victim was about 250 lbs. The boat had been transported, by Zimmerman, from the company shop to the the pond on the morning of the accident.

A life ring and two life jackets, U.S. Coast Guard approved, were available but not used on the day of the accident. They were stored at the mechanic shop in their original wrappings.

Zimmerman was affected by childhood polio which limited the function of his right hip and leg. He could not swim.

The water and air temperatures were estimated to be in the mid- 60's. Winds were out of the southwest 5 to 10 mph. The day was clear and sunny.


John Zimmerman, victim, reported for work at 7:00 a.m., his usual starting time. Meisel's General Manager, Lloyd Town, had instructed the victim to de-water a pond on the property of Dayton Sand and gravel, a mine which adjoined the Meisel property. The pump used for de-watering was located on a barge floating in the pond. Zimmerman, needing to wire the pump to an electrical source, took the work boat to the pond and placed it in the water. Three witnesses, two equipment operators for Dayton Sand and Gravel, Co. and one operator for C.C. Meisel Co. Inc., saw Zimmerman arrive at the pond at about 9:00 a.m. He was observed backing the pickup down a ramp to the water's edge, unloading the boat, and placing his tools in it. No one observed his activities after that time.

Evidence gathered during the investigation suggests that Zimmerman, after removing his shoes and donning a pair of hip boots, tied the bow line to an oar so he could maneuver the boat to deeper water and board without dragging the bottom of the boat. It appears he slipped while moving or boarding the boat.

Fred Henn, one of the witnesses to Zimmerman's arrival, was operating a bulldozer north of the pond, at about 9:30 a.m., when he noticed the boat and oar at the northeast bank. Thinking that the boat might have gotten away from Zimmerman, Henn entered the boat and rowed it back to the location where he had previously seen Zimmerman. Henn looked and yelled for Zimmerman but could not find him. Henn then went over to the other two operators and asked if they had seen Zimmerman,and they replied that they had not. Henn called the main office on the company radio for help. The other two operators searched the shore and lake for Zimmerman.

The Yamhill County Sheriff's Department, Oregon State Police, Newberg Fire Department Water Rescue, and Dayton Fire Department responded to the 911 call and were involved in the recovery effort. Divers made two sweeps of the pond before finding Zimmerman's body, at about 10:50 p.m., in 15 feet of water, about 20 feet from where he launched the boat. Resuscitation efforts were unsuccessful.


The accident occurred because the victim, who was unable to swim, entered the water to maneuver a work boat without benefit of a life jacket or other floatation device.


Citation No. 7950129
Issued C.C. Meisel Co., Inc., on May 7, 1997, under the provisions of 104 (d)(1) for violation of CFR 30 part 56.15020:
On May 5, 1997, a fatal accident occurred at this operation when an employee was preparing to launch a work boat and either slipped or fell into the pond or fell out of the boat and drowned. The employee, who could not swim, was not wearing a life jacket. Two life jackets were stored at the mechanic shop in their original wrappers. It was apparent that the company was not enforcing the requirement to use life jackets where there is a danger from falling into the water. This is an unwarrantable failure.

This citation was terminated on May 7, 1997. Company policy has been implemented to require two persons to be at the pond when a boat is used and life jackets to be worn.

/s/ Arnold E. Pederson
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

/S/ James Zingler
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Approved by: James M. Salois, District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB97M30]