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District 4



Mine No. 3 (ID No. 46-08652)
Golden Chance Mining, Inc.
Gilbert, Mingo County, West Virginia

July 26, 1999


Curtiss Vance, Jr.
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Gerald D. Dransite
David M. Fortney
Electrical Engineers
Approval and Certification Center

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
100 Bluestone Road, Mount Hope, West Virginia 25880
Edwin P. Brady, District Manager

Release Date: October 6, 1999



On Monday, July 26, 1999, at approximately 11:10 a.m., a fatal machinery accident occurred in the last open crosscut intersection with the No. 3 entry of the 001-0 MMU Section, of Golden Chance Mining, Inc., Mine No. 3. The accident resulted in fatal injuries to Clifford H. Johnson, continuous-mining-machine helper. Johnson had 28 years total mining experience, including 20 months at this mine. The accident occurred while Johnson was attempting to pull slack power cable by hand down the No. 3 entry toward the radio-remote control continuous-mining machine being trammed through the intersection. Johnson tripped, stumbled, or fell against the conveyor boom with his head and neck extended over the conveyor boom at the same instant the machine was being trammed over gob in the roadway causing the conveyor boom to make contact with the mine roof. The conveyor boom of the radio-remote control continuous-mining machine crushed the victim's head and neck against the mine roof causing fatal injuries.


The Mine No. 3 of Golden Chance Mining, Inc., is located in Sharkey Branch near Gilbert, Mingo County, West Virginia. The mine was developed from the surface by 4 drift entries into the Hernshaw coalbed that averages from 45 to 50 inches in height. The mine began production on November 7, 1997.

Employment is provided for 43 persons on three production shifts and one maintenance shift. The mine produces an average of 2,058 tons of raw coal daily from two mining sections. Remote-control continuous-mining machines and shuttle cars are used to produce coal in conjunction with a system of belt conveyors that transport coal from working sections to surface stock piles. The mine has approval to use extended-cuts where conditions permit. The immediate mine roof is sandstone and shale and is primarily supported with 36-inch resin-grout rods. Ventilation is induced into the mine by a 6-foot blowing fan which produces about 82,000 cubic feet of air per minute. The mine liberates non-detectable amounts of methane.

The principal officers of Golden Chance Mining, Inc., are Anthony P. Cline, President/Treasurer; J. Darrin Cline, Vice President/Secretary; Danny Robinette, Superintendent; and John Sheppard, Mine Foreman.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) was conducting a Safety and Health Inspection (AAA) at the time of the accident; however, no coal mine inspector was at the mine on July 26, 1999.


On Monday, July 26, 1999, at 6:45 a.m., the No. 1 section production crew entered the mine under the direct supervision of John Sheppard, mine foreman/section foreman. The crew consisted of Lysandrous Mullins, continuous-mining-machine operator; Clifford H. Johnson, continuous-mining-machine helper; Brian Burgess, scoop operator and EMT; Marvin Thompson, electrician; and Paul Chaney, Grayling Mullins, and Glen Goldie, shuttle-car operators. Mining began in the No. 7 entry and continued with the mining of the Nos. 6, 5, 4, and 3 entries. Sheppard met with the continuous-mining-machine crew during the mining of the No. 4 entry between 10:00 a.m. and 10:15 a.m., and instructed them to mine the No. 3 entry and tram the machine back to the No. 4 entry to turn a crosscut.

After mining was completed in the No. 3 entry, the continuous-mining machine was trammed back out of the entry into the crosscut between the No. 3 and No. 4 entries and stopped. Then Johnson told the continuous-mining-machine operator to tram the remote controlled continuous- mining machine over toward the No. 2 entry through the intersection to pull some of the slack power cable out of the No. 3 face. Johnson, standing in the No. 3 entry about 10 feet inby the continuous-mining machine, said he would hand drag the pull rope on the power cable down to the corner to hook onto the conveyor boom after they got the machine and cable straightened out. Mullins started the remote-controlled continuous-mining machine and began to tram the machine through the intersection over into the crosscut, when he heard the conveyor boom strike the mine roof after tramming over some road gob material. Mullins stated that he turned toward the conveyor boom of the machine and saw Johnson falling backward away from the conveyor boom of the continuous-mining machine. The machine operator immediately pushed the panic switch on the remote control unit to deenergize the machine. The continuous-mining-machine operator stated that he dropped the remote-control unit on the mine floor and ran toward the victim while calling out very loudly to the other crew members on the section for help.

The scoop operator and EMT, Brian R. Burgess, had just completed cleaning the No. 5 entry and was waiting for the continuous-mining machine to be moved, when he heard the other crew members shouting that someone had been hurt at the continuous-mining machine. Burgess stated that he immediately ran to the continuous-mining machine and began emergency treatment on Johnson. The section foreman, Sheppard, arrived shortly after Burgess to assist. After observing how seriously injured Johnson was, he ran directly to the section telephone and called the surface for an ambulance. Sheppard then gathered the emergency first-aid equipment, loaded it on the mantrip, and transported it to the accident site. He then helped secure the victim onto a stretcher and onto a mantrip for transport to the surface. The victim was examined by the Stafford Emergency Ambulance Service personnel and the Mingo County Coroner, Mike Casey, who pronounced the victim dead at the scene at 11:10 a.m. The body was transported to the Charleston Medical Examiner's Office, Charleston, West Virginia.


The Mine Safety and Health Administration was notified at 11:20 a.m., on July 26, 1999, that a serious accident had occurred. Mine Safety and Health Administration personnel began to arrive at the mine at 1:00 p.m. A 103(k) Order was issued to ensure the safety of the miners until the accident investigation could be completed.

MSHA and the West Virginia office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training jointly conducted an investigation with the assistance of mine management personnel.

All parties were briefed by mine personnel as to the circumstances surrounding the accident. A discussion was held with those persons with information of what occurred. Representatives from all parties traveled to the accident scene, where an examination was conducted. Photographs, video, and relevant measurements were taken, and sketches were made at the accident site.

Interviews of individuals known to have direct knowledge of the facts surrounding the accident were conducted in the conference room of the MSHA field office located at Mt. Gay, West Virginia, on July 28,1999.

The physical portion of the investigation was completed on July 28, 1999, and the 103(k) Order was terminated.



Records indicated that training had been conducted in accordance with Part 48, Title 30 CFR.


Records, and the examiner's date, time, and initials indicated that the required examinations were being conducted in the 001-0 MMU No. 1 section.

Physical Factors

1. There were no eyewitnesses to the initial contact between the continuous-mining-machine boom and the victim.

2. The mining height in the area of the accident ranged from 48 to 54.5 inches.

3. The Approved Roof Control Plan for the mine stipulates that while operating the continuous-mining machine, the continuous-mining-machine operator shall assure that all persons are in a safe location.

4. The Joy 14CM10-11AAX continuous-mining machine was operated by radio-remote control and was examined during the investigation. No contributing violations were observed. The radio-remote control box was examined during the investigation and all control components were operative when tested. The investigation revealed no deficiencies which affected the safe operation of the continuous-mining machine and the radio-remote control box.

5. The mine floor in the intersection of the last open crosscut of the No. 3 entry in the No. 1 section was found to be damp, and undulations were present at the scene of the accident.

6. The investigation revealed that the victim was working in close proximity to the mining- machine boom while the machine was being trammed. It is likely that the victim may have tripped, stumbled, or fallen, as he was pulling the trailing cable toward the continuous-mining machine.


The accident and resultant fatality occurred when the victim was crushed between the conveyor boom and mine roof as the radio-remote control continuous-mining machine was being trammed through the intersection. There were no eyewitnesses and it could not be determined if the victim tripped, stumbled, or fell into the conveyor boom of the mining machine while the machine was being trammed by the continuous-mining-machine operator.


A 103(k) Order was issued stating: The mine has experienced a fatal machinery accident in the #3 entry on the 001-0 MMU; this order is issued to ensure the safety of any person in the coal mine until an examination or investigation is made. Only those persons selected from the company officials, state officials, the miners' representative and other persons who are deemed by MSHA to have information relevant to the investigation may enter or remain in the affected area.

There were no contributing violations issued during the investigation of the accident.

Respectfully submitted by:

Curtiss Vance, Jr.
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Gerald D. Dransite
Electrical Engineer

David M. Fortney
Electrical Engineer

Approved by:

Richard J. Kline
Assistant District Manager

Edwin P. Brady
District Manager

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