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South Central District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

Accident Investigation Report
Surface Nonmetal Mine

Fatal Powered Haulage Accident

Brauntex Materials, Inc.
Mine-Brauntex Materials, Inc.
New Braunfels, Comal County, Texas
I.D. No. 41-02743

July 9, 1997

Ronald M. Mesa
Special Investigator
Ralph Rodriguez
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Originating Office
South Central District Office
1100 Commerce Street, Room 4C50
Dallas, Texas 75242-0499

Doyle D. Fink
District Manager


Thomas Garza, Jr., truck driver, age 28, was fatally injured about 8:20 a.m. on July 9, 1997, when the haulage truck he was driving was struck by a Union Pacific freight train. Garza had a total of eleven months experience as a truck driver, with three weeks experience at this operation. He had not received training in accordance with 30 CFR Part 48. Garza did receive new employee indoctrination and on-the-job training from the mine operator.

MSHA learned of the accident while listening to the radio during the afternoon of July 9, 1997. An investigation was started the same day.

The Brauntex Materials, Inc. mine, a crushed limestone operation, was located on Wald Road in New Braunfels, Comal County, Texas. The principal operating official was Maurice D. Fischer, vice-president. The mine normally operated one 10-hour shift per day, five days a week and a total of twenty six persons were employed. Limestone mining started at this location during 1976.

Brauntex Materials, Inc. purchased limestone waste material as a by-product from the APG Limestone Corporation. Brauntex crushed, screened and washed the by-product to produce a road base and fill material for sale to the general public. They also transported the material to customers.

The last regular inspection was completed on May 10, 1997, and another regular inspection was conducted at the conclusion of the fatal accident investigation. The miners were not represented by a union.


The haul truck involved in the accident was a 1995 Ford, Model LT 8000, serial number 1FDYU82E0SV. It was purchased new in November 1995. The operating weight was 52,000 pounds and it was powered by a Ford Diesel FD-1460 250 horse power engine. The truck was equipped with a 20 cubic yard dump bed.

The haul truck was totally destroyed in the accident and no post accident tests were conducted. Based on the pre-shift inspections reports there were no apparent safety or mechanical problems with the truck. The fleet of haul trucks were all new and in good condition.

The locomotive involved in the accident was owned and operated by Union Pacific Railroad Company. The diesel locomotive was a General Electric Model C40-8. The locomotive weighed 401,000 pounds and generated 4000 horsepower. It was 70 feet in length and 10 feet 3 inches wide. The locomotive was equipped with dynamic brakes. The locomotive and the railroad cars had been removed from the scene prior to the start of the investigation.

The railroad track, on a 100 feet wide right-of-way running through the Brauntex mining operation, was owned and maintained by Missouri Pacific Railroad. The track was used exclusively for freight and passenger service and was not associated with the mining activities of Brauntex Materials. (See Appendix II for sketch of railroad track and plant layout)

Although the Missouri Pacific Railroad had the right-of-way, the "number one crossing," where the accident occurred, was maintained by Brauntex Materials. The roadway was 24 feet 3 inches wide at the crossing and Brauntex had installed stop signs on both approaches to the crossing. Brauntex had installed the standard white railroad crossing warning sign on the north side of the track. The crossing was exclusively used by Brauntex trucks and the general public did not have access to this crossing.

The Brauntex crusher and stockpiles were located nine-tenths of a mile north of the crossing. The Brauntex main office and scale house were located 600 feet south of the crossing.

The haulage road from the crusher ran parallel to the elevated railroad track on the north side for a distance of three-tenths of mile before it crossed the railroad track at the "number one crossing" in front of the scale house. The parallel section of the haulage road was 65 feet from the railroad track and the elevated track was visible from the haulage road. The road made a 90-degree right hand turn to the crossing.

All truck drivers were required to transport the limestone from the crusher to the scale house where the material was weighed.


Thomas Garza, Jr., truck driver, reported to work at 7:30 a.m. on July 9, 1997. Garza was instructed by Milton Dornbusch, general manager, to haul material from the stockpiles by the crusher to local customers. Garza began his usual task of pre-inspecting his haul truck for any safety defects and servicing as required.

Garza proceeded to the crusher area to pick up his first load of the shift and arrived at the crusher area around 8:00 a.m. Garza had to wait for one other truck to load before his was loaded. About 8:10 a.m. he was finished being loaded and proceeded towards the scale house.

Witnesses, James Sanchez, truck driver, and George Pate, helper, were sitting in their haul truck across the "number one crossing" at the time of the accident. They stated the haul truck was about two truck lengths in front of the freight train as it approached the crossing. Garza was warned of the oncoming train over the two-way radio by Dornbusch. Garza did not respond back to Dornbusch. Dornbusch stated that he made it a habit to warn the truck drivers of the oncoming trains when he saw them. Albert Garcia, truck driver also warned Garza of the oncoming train over the radio. Garza did not respond back to Garcia, either. Sanchez and Pate stated that the train did not sound it's horn as it approached the crossing. Garza made the 90-degree right hand turn towards the scale house and traveled approximately 65 feet before entering the crossing without stopping.

The freight train, which was traveling approximately 44 miles per hour, collided with haul truck at the crossing. The train engineer applied the train brakes at impact, but shoved the truck approximately 2400 feet down the track before it stopped.

Joseph Luna, deputy sheriff, who was driving down the adjacent road, was the first to arrive at the accident scene and found the victim trapped in the cab of the truck. Diesel fuel from the truck's ruptured fuel tank had spilled and ignited mostly around the locomotive after the train stopped. Dornbusch was the second person to arrive and he used his fire extinguisher to fight the fire. Dennis Reininger, shop foreman arrived and helped control the fire. About 10 fire extinguishers were used to keep the fire under control until the New Braunfels Fire Department arrived and controlled the fire. Brauntex's hydraulic crane was used to pull the truck free of the locomotive and the firemen used the jaws of life to free the victim. The victim was air lifted to Brooks Army Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead at 10:50 a.m.


The direct cause of the accident was the failure to ensure that haul trucks were stopping at the "number one crossing". Contributing causes were the failure to provide adequate signs on both sides of the crossing and to ensure audible warnings were given when trains approached the crossing. An additional contributing factor may have been the 90 degree turn at the approach to the crossing on the north side.


It was recommended that the roadway be widened through the 90 degree turn north of the "number one crossing".


Citation Number 4444397
Issued under the provision of Section 104(d)(1), for violations of 30 CFR 56.9100(a):

A fatal powered haulage accident occurred at this mine on 7/9/97, involving a 1995 Ford haul truck and a Union Pacific Railroad freight train. The truck driver did not stop at the stop sign at the "number one crossing" and yield to the on coming freight train. This constitutes more than ordinary negligence by the mine operator and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with the standard.

Order Number 4109013
Issued under the provision of Section 104(d)(1), for violations of 30 CFR 56.14214(b):

A fatal powered haulage accident occurred at this mine on 7/9/97, when a Union Pacific Railroad freight train struck a 1995 Ford haul truck that was crossing the tracks. Two truck drivers observed the train approach and stated to MSHA investigators that the train went through the "number one crossing" and no audible warning was heard by these drivers. This constitutes more than ordinary negligence by the mine operator and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with the standard.

Order Number 4444398
Issued under the provision of Section 104(d)(1), for violations of 30 CFR 56.9104:

A fatal powered haulage accident occurred at this mine on 7/9/97, involving a 1995 Ford haulage truck and a Union Pacific Freight train. There was not adequate warning signs or signals to warn the truck drivers of on coming freight trains. The trains pass through the area 5 to 7 times a day. The "number one crossing" is used by the truck drivers on a daily basis. The mine operator is aware of this condition and had installed only one railroad (white cross arm) sign on the north side of the railroad crossing. This constitutes more than ordinary negligence by the mine operator and is an unwarrantable failure to comply with the standard.

/s/Ronald M. Mesa

/s/Ralph Rodriguez

Approved By: Daniel J. Haupt,Acting District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon [FAB97M48]