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MSHA - Fatal Investigation Report


Western District
Metal and Nonmetal Mine Safety and Health

Accident Investigation Report
Surface Metal Mine

Fatal Powered Haulage Accident

Cummins Intermountain, Incorporated
I.D. No. CL5


Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Incorporated
Goldstrike Mine
Carlin, Eureka County, Nevada
ID No. 26-01089

September 28, 1998


Michael Drussel
Supervisory Mine Safety and Health Inspector
David A. Kerber
Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Robert Barrish
Civil Engineer

George Gardner
Civil Engineer

Originating Office:
Western District Office
Mine Safety and Health Administration
2060 Peabody Road, Suite 610
Vacaville, CA 95687

James M. Salois
District Manager


Dwayne Villalobos, mechanic, age 36, was fatally injured at 8:15 p.m. on September 28, 1998, when the service truck he was operating was struck by a large haulage truck. Villalobos had eight years mining experience, two years and two months as a mechanic at this operation. He had received training in accordance with 30 CFR Part 48.

MSHA was notified at 9:30 p.m. on the day of the accident by a telephone call from the safety manager for the mining company. An investigation was started the same day.

The Goldstrike Mine, an open pit gold mine, owned and operated by Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Inc., was located 28 miles north of Carlin, Eureka County, Nevada. Principal operating officials were Donald Prahl, vice president and general manager; David Sheffield, superintendent, safety and health services; Michael Feeham, mine manager; and Larry Radford, mine operations superintendent. The mine was normally operated two, 12-hour shifts a day, seven days a week. A total of 1,530 employees was employed.

Gold bearing ore was drilled and blasted from multiple benches in the pit. Broken material was transported from the pit on haulage trucks. Depending on its grade, the ore was either crushed and milled or hauled to a cyanide leach pad for processing. The milled or leached product was sent to the plant refinery for removal of impurities and pouring into dor´┐Ż bars. These bars were transported to refineries off site for final processing prior to sale to customers.

The victim was employed by Cummins Intermountain, Inc., an independent contractor located in Elko, Nevada. The principal operating official was Robert Egginton, branch manager. The contractor had worked at the mine for several years repairing haulage equipment. They normally worked one 8-hour shift a day, five days a week. A total of five persons worked at this job site.

The last regular inspection of this operation was completed on September 10, 1998. Another inspection was conducted following this investigation.


The accident occurred in the pit at the intersection of the Bazza trolley ramp road and the upper 5600 cut-off road. The Bazza trolley ramp road was 150 feet wide and sloped 8 degrees. Traffic on the trolley ramp road had the right-of-way. The ramp and cut-off road intersected at approximately 55 degrees, which limited the visibility of the haulage truck drivers to their right as they approached the intersection. Drivers routinely turned their trucks slightly to the right on the approach so they had better visibility down the ramp.

The cut-off road was 50 feet wide on the south side of the intersection and 77 feet wide on the north side. Berms along all roadways in the immediate area of the accident were between four and five feet high, which was mid-axle height on the haulage trucks. A stop sign was posted approximately 80 feet north of the intersection on the cut-off road. The mine operator had established a left-hand traffic pattern. The posted speed limit on the Bazza trolley ramp road was 25 miles per hour.

A light pole with a 50-watt light was located approximately 225 feet north of the intersection. Additional lighting was provided by low pressure sodium lights located on top of trolley towers on the north side of the Bazza trolley ramp road. The towers were spaced about 125 feet apart. One of these tower lights was about 25 feet from the area of initial impact; another tower light was about 75 feet from the accident site. Lighting was not considered a factor in the accident.

The haulage truck involved in the accident was a 190-ton, diesel/electric, Dresser HaulPak, Model 685E, designated as truck HTK536. The truck was 39 feet 2 inches long, 22 feet wide, and 21 feet 6 inches high. Motive power was provided by two 1000-horsepower electric motors driving the rear wheels. Power for the motors was supplied by on-board generators supplemented by a 1600-volt trolley system installed on towers along the haulage roads leading out of the pit. The trolley installations were known locally as trolley ramps. The truck was equipped with lights on the front and rear. Braking was provided by dynamic retarding and an all-hydraulic mechanical system. Testing of the steering and braking systems after the accident found them fully functional with no safety defects. The truck was equipped with a pantograph, which is an electrical trolley arm carried on a retractable frame. The pantograph connected to the overhead trolley system to assist the truck in ascending grades. The driver's view to the left side of the vehicle was relatively unobstructed. The view to the right was partially obscured by 18 feet of decking beside the cab, the pantograph frame, and an electrical box mounted on the decking.

The victim was driving a 1994 Dodge 1-ton service truck used for maintenance purposes in and around the mine. It measured 20 feet long, 9 feet wide, and 7 feet high. Seat belts were provided. An analysis of the truck's lighting system conducted by the Nevada Highway Patrol after the accident revealed that it's headlamps were not on at the time it was struck by the haulage truck. Their analysis further indicated that the brake, tail, and work (strobe) lights were on. The mine operator had written rules requiring the use of headlights after sunset. The truck's speed at the time of impact could not be determined. An examination of the steering and braking systems after the accident found no safety defects.

A few minutes before the accident, the victim called his supervisor on a cellular telephone in the service truck to discuss the next day's work activities. The weather on the night of the accident was warm, dry and clear.


On the day of the accident, Dwayne Villalobos (victim) reported for work at 6:10 p.m., his regular starting time. This was the first evening shift for Villalobos after working day shifts for the previous 45 days. Villalobos traveled to the 5700 level of the pit to work on a haulage truck. A short time later, he drove to the maintenance shop to get a laptop computer to hook into the truck's diagnostic system. Returning to the haulage truck, he drove up the Bazza trolley ramp road. At the same time, David Basaraba, HaulPak operator, was en route with his third load of waste rock from the Betze Post pit to the 5600 Bazza waste dump. He was traveling north to south along the upper 5600 cut-off road. When he approached the intersection at the Bazza trolley ramp road, he stopped approximately 130 feet before reaching the stop sign. He did not see the service truck and drove under the trolley lines on the northeast side of Bazza trolley ramp. He felt a jolt from the right side of his truck and the steering locked up. He stopped the truck against the opposite berm approximately 125 feet from where he felt the jolt. Basaraba called the dispatcher for assistance, then climbed off the truck and saw the service truck on fire under his vehicle. Basaraba activated the haulage truck's fire suppression system, then returned to the cab and retrieved a hand-held fire extinguisher. Rescue equipment and other mine employees arrived a short time later and assisted Basaraba in extinguishing the fire.

Emergency medical technicians (EMT) arrived and began rescue efforts as soon as the fire was extinguished. Villalobos was not wearing the seat belt and was pinned between the dashboard and the deformed cab of the truck. After about an hour, he was extricated from the cab. Villalobos was pronounced dead at the scene by a local coroner a short time later. Death was attributed to suffocation.


It was the consensus opinion of the investigators that when the victim placed the telephone call to his supervisor just before the accident, he may have pulled over to the side of the road as he approached the intersection, stopped and turned off the headlights. After completing the call, he may have inadvertently pulled back onto the road and traveled into the intersection without realizing that his headlights were not on.

However it occurred, the service truck entered the intersection without headlights. A contributing factor was that the haulage truck driver stopped short of the intersection and in doing so, was unable to see a smaller vehicle in the intersection. Failure to wear the seat belts in the service truck may have contributed to the severity of the accident.


Order No. 7967221 was issued on September 28, 1998, under the provisions of Section 103(k) of the Mine Act:

This mine experienced a fatal accident on September 28, 1998, at the intersection of the Bazza trolley ramp and the 5600 cut-off road. This order is issued to ensure the safety of persons in the mine until a determination is made that the intersection is safe and can be returned to normal operations as determined by an authorized representative of the Secretary.

This order was terminated on October 2, 1998, after it was determined that the affected area of the mine could return to normal operations.

Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Inc.

Citation No. 7967223 was issued on November 20, 1998, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.9100(a):

A contractor employee was fatally injured at this operation on September 28, 1998, when the service truck he was operating was struck by a 190-ton haulage truck at an intersection in the pit. The driver of the haulage truck stopped approximately 130 feet from the intersection of the Bazza trolley ramp and the 5600 cut-off road where the accident occurred, which was too far away for him to see other traffic entering the intersection.

Cummins Intermountain, Inc.

Citation No. 7967222 was issued on November 20, 1998, under the provisions of Section 104(a) of the Mine Act for violation of 30 CFR 56.9100(a):

A mechanic was fatally injured at this operation on September 28, 1998, when the service truck he was driving at night in the pit was run over by a 190-ton haulage truck. Established rules governing the use of headlights were not followed in that the service truck headlights were not on when it was struck by the haulage truck.


Participating in the investigation

Barrick Goldstrike Mines, Inc.
Donald R. Prahl
Michael Feeham
David C. Sheffield
Larry Radford
Gerald D. Hedglin
Daniel H. Stevenson
R. Bryan Hoggan
James Allen
vice president and general manager
mine manager
superintendent, safety and health services
mine operations superintendent
general supervisor mine operations
safety director
safety and health coordinator
relief foreman
Cummings Intermountain, Inc.
Robert D. Egginton branch manager
State of Nevada, Highway Patrol
James Stewart
Donald W. Neff
State of Nevada, Mine Safety and Training Section
William Hawkins mine inspector
Mine Safety and Health Administration
Michael Drussel
David A. Kerber
Robert Barrish
George Gardner
supervisory mine safety and health inspector
mine safety and health inspector
civil engineer
civil engineer


Sketch of the accident site


Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:
Fatal Alert Bulletin Icon FAB98M43