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Underground Coal Mine

Fatal Fall of Rib Accident
January 26, 2000

Pattiki Mine
White County Coal, LLC
Carmi, White County, Illinois
I. D. No. 11-02662

Accident Investigators

Mark A. Odum
Supervisory Mining Engineer

Lonnie E. Bryant
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Wolfgang M. J. Kaak
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

Raymond Mazzoni
Technical Support

John Cook
Technical Support

Don F. Braenovich
Division of Safety

Originating Office - Mine Safety and Health Administration
District 8
2300 Old Decker Road, Vincennes, Indiana 47591
James K. Oakes, District Manager

Release Date 04-04-2000


The day shift No. 2 Unit crew completed mining the crosscut through between No. 6 and No. 7 Entries (6 left crosscut), a distance of approximately 24 feet. After the crosscut was mined through by the day shift (Yates' crew), approximately two to three feet of draw rock fell in the area mined. The mining machine was utilized to cut and smooth out fallen material in order to form a ramp for the roof bolting machine to continue roof bolting operations.

The roof bolting machine reached a point where it could not be advanced any further when additional roof material fell in front of the machine. The operators prepared to back the machine out of the crosscut in order to remove the fallen roof material. As the victim, Mark Wargel, was moving from the front of the roof bolting machine to the rear of the machine, a section of the rib fell without warning, crushing him against the roof bolting machine. The rock and coal section of roof and rib measured approximately 7 � feet long, 2 feet in width and approximately 22 inches in thickness. A combination of factors contributed to the rib collapse which resulted in the fatal accident. The mine overburden was approximately 970 feet, causing vertical stress on the coal ribs. The above normal coal seam height, plus the additional height created by the fall of roof material also contributed to increased sloughage of the coal rib. In addition, the presence of water in the immediate mine roof strata may also have contributed to the fall of roof material in the crosscut between No. 6 and No. 7 Entries.


White County Coal LLC, Pattiki Mine, I. D. 11-02662, is located three miles Southeast of Carmi, White County, Illinois. The mine is accessed by two shafts approximately 1,020 feet in depth into the Herrin No. 6 Coal Seam, which varies from 5 to 7 � feet in thickness. Ventilation is provided by a main mine fan exhausting a total of 357,000 cubic feet of air per minute. A full capacity back-up fan is also provided. The most current laboratory analysis of return air samples collected by Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) revealed a total methane liberation of 2,119,800 cubic feet per day (24 hrs). During advance mining, face areas are ventilated by blowing line curtain and scrubber-equipped continuous mining machines. The immediate mine roof consists of gray shale, and is overlain by a main roof of sandstone and limestone.

The mine operates on two production shifts and one maintenance shift. Pattiki Mine has 189 underground employees and 26 surface employees. On January 26, 2000, there were 75 miners working underground on the day shift. The mine produces approximately 13,483 tons of raw coal per day from four mechanized mining machine units (two super-sections utilize two continuous mining machines on each of the super-sections). Coal is transported to the surface via the skip shaft. Diesel and battery-powered equipment, including rail and rubber-tired equipment are utilized for transportation of materials and personnel at this mine.

The Roof Control Plan in effect at the time of the accident was approved by the Mine Safety and Health Administration on March 23, 1999. The mine training plan was approved by the MSHA District Manager on October 27, 1997.

The principal officers for Pattiki Mine at the time of the accident were:
President and Chief Executive Officer ..........................Joseph W. Craft, III
Senior Vice President of Operations..............................Charles R. Wesley, III
General Manager of Operations.....................................G. Michael Meighen
Safety Director................................................................Tommy J. Steele
An MSHA Safety and Health Inspection (AAA) began on January 3, 2000, and was ongoing at the time of the accident. The previous Safety and Health Inspection (AAA) began on October 6, 1999, and was completed on December 22,1999.

The Non-Fatal Days Lost (NFDL) incident rate for January 1, through September 30, 1999, was 8.29 for underground mines nationwide and 6.80 for Pattiki Mine.


On Wednesday, January 26, 2000, the day shift section crew of the 008-MMU, Unit No. 2, entered the mine at approximately 6:45 a.m. Central Standard Time (CST) under the supervision of George (Pete) Yates, Section Foreman. Three of the miners/crew members had entered the mine at an earlier time (around 4:00 a.m.). The day shift crew traveled via the elevator to the bottom of the elevator shaft (approximately 1,000 feet). The day shift crew then traveled by diesel-powered rubber-tired personnel carrier into the No. 2 Unit.

Upon arrival on the section around 7:15 a.m. CST, Yates conducted a safety talk, which included a discussion of the hazards of roof and rib. The coal seam height had increased in the No. 2 Unit from approximately 5 feet to approximately 7 � feet. Yates traveled across the face areas making his routine examinations. After the examinations were completed, Yates briefed the crew of the work to be performed. At this time the No. 2 Unit consisted of seven advancing entries. This section utilizes two 14CM Joy remote-controlled continuous mining machines, three electric Joy shuttle cars, a single boom Lee-Norse roof bolting machine and a Fletcher double-boom roof bolting machine and a scoop tractor.

Normal mining operations began around 7:35 a.m. CST with Barry Chinn, Continuous Mining Machine Operator, mining the face of No. 4 Entry with the right side continuous mining machine. The Fletcher double-boom roof bolting machine started bolting/supporting the newly mined area in No. 4 Entry. On the day of the accident, the roof bolting machine operators were Jason Gross and the victim, Mark Wargel. Chinn, with the assistance of Joe Sparrow, Miner Helper, used the left side continuous mining machine to complete the mining of the crosscut at Survey Station No. 25770 between No. 6 and No. 7 Entries (6 left crosscut), a distance of approximately 24 feet.

On the day before the accident, the afternoon shift section crew of January 25, 2000, mined and roof bolted the 6 left crosscut, a distance of approximately 22 feet. Two to three feet of draw rock had fallen when the afternoon shift crew made the first cut of this crosscut. This fallen material was removed and the area was then supported with 72-inch roof bolts installed by the afternoon shift roof bolting machine operators.

Also, on the day of the accident, during the mining of the No. 6 Entry, approximately two feet of draw rock fell in the 6 left crosscut. Sparrow used the continuous mining machine to crush and ramp this fallen material to permit the double-boom roof bolting machine to tram onto the rock in order to install roof supports. Chinn and Sparrow then began loading on the right side of the section. Around 9:00 a.m., Yates instructed Gross and Wargel to spot an additional roof bolt on the inby corner of the 6 left crosscut and No. 6 Entry prior to moving the roof bolting machine into the 6 left crosscut. Approximately 2 - 2 � hours had lapsed since the mining machine had cut the crosscut through between No. 6 and No. 7 Entries. Yates made an examination of the area and did not observe any slips or cracks prior to the double-boom roof bolting machine entering the crosscut.

The double-boom roof bolting machine was moved into the crosscut and Gross and Wargel began roof bolting operations. As roof bolting was advanced in the crosscut, loose roof material observed by Gross and Wargel was scaled and pried down prior to installing the next row of roof bolts. Yates conducted routine work and later traveled by the 6 left crosscut and observed that everything appeared "ok" with the roof bolting operations.

Additional roof material had fallen in front of the roof bolting machine during the installation of five rows of roof bolts. This fallen roof material prevented the advancement of the roof bolting machine. Sparrow and Gross decided that the scoop tractor could be used to ramp the fallen material to allow for continued roof bolting of the crosscut. Two or three rows of roof bolts needed to be installed to complete the installation of roof bolts in the 6 left crosscut. Sparrow obtained the scoop tractor and was positioned in the crosscut between No. 6 and No. 5 Entries.

The roof bolting machine operators (Gross and Wargel) prepared to back the roof bolting machine out of the crosscut to permit the scoop tractor to ramp the fallen roof material. Sparrow stated he observed Gross lower the ATRS on the double-boom roof bolting machine, walk to the valve bank midway on the left side of the machine and then start toward the operator's cab, located on the rear of the machine. Around 11:05 a.m. Central Standard Time (CST), Wargel was in the process of walking along the right side of the machine when a section of the roof and rib fell without warning, crushing him against the roof bolting machine. Gross stated he heard the fall of material and saw a cloud of dust and yelled for help. Sparrow, an EMT, responded, assessed the situation, and realized more help was needed. Sparrow notified Yates, who was near the section coal dumping point, then Sparrow went to the nearest mine phone and called the security guard located on the surface. Sparrow reported the accident and stated they needed an ambulance, a Life Flight, and to notify the doctor on call. Sparrow, Gross, and the rest of the crew, consisting of Yates, Jimmy Buchanan, Greg Cowsert, Murray Shoulders, Tommy Yates, Marcus Huges, Barry Chinn, and Tyler Sidwell, began rescue operations.

The crew used pry bars and wooden header boards to extricate Wargel. Several attempts were made to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and check Wargel's pulse. After Wargel was removed from beneath the fallen material, CPR was administered. Other EMT's arrived and assisted in the care of Wargel. Wargel was transported to the surface around 11:40 a.m. CST, where EMT's/Medical Technicians for White County Ambulance Service continued CPR and provided medical treatment. Welborn Life Flight helicopter, piloted by Andy Scamman from St Mary's Medical Center - Evansville, Indiana, arrived around 11:44 a.m. CST. Flight Nurse Charity Frye and Flight Medic Billy Dukes provided medical treatment at the mine. The victim, Mark Wargel, was pronounced dead at 12:23 p.m. CST at the mine.


The Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) Vincennes, Indiana, District 8 Office, was notified on Wednesday, January 26, 2000, at approximately 11:10 a.m. Central Standard Time (CST), that a fall of rib accident had occurred at the Pattiki Mine on January 26, 2000, about 11:05 a.m. CST. White County Ambulance EMT's and Life Flight Paramedics had been notified and responded. At 12:30 p.m. CST, MSHA District 8 Office was notified that the victim was pronounced deceased at 12:23 p.m. CST, by the Life Flight nurse. MSHA Safety and Health Inspectors Wolfgang M. J. Kaak and John R. Winstead were underground at Pattiki Mine conducting inspections. After being informed of the accident, Winstead secured the accident site. Kaak proceeded to the surface and issued a 103(k) Order to ensure the safety of the miners. Kaak remained on the surface to coordinate and record response efforts.

MSHA dispatched an accident investigation team which arrived at Pattiki Mine at approximately 3:30 p.m. CST. Upon arriving at the mine, all parties were briefed concerning the circumstances surrounding the accident. MSHA and State of Illinois mine inspectors jointly began the investigation, assisted by mine management personnel. Interviews of individuals at the mine known to have actual knowledge of the facts surrounding the accident were conducted at Pattiki Mine the afternoon of January 27, 2000. A representative from the Division of Safety, Arlington, Virginia, and representatives from the MSHA Pittsburgh Safety and Health Technology Center assisted in the investigation.


An examination of Wargel's training records revealed that he had received all the required training in accordance with 30 CFR, Part 48.

Roof Control: The roof-control plan for the mine was approved by the MSHA District Manager on March 23, 1999. The plan specifies that roof bolts are to be installed on four and one-half foot centers with the bolts nearest to the ribs to be installed two and one-half to four feet from the rib. Entries and crosscuts in mains and submains may be mined to 18 feet wide and may be 20 feet wide in panels. Rooms and crosscuts may be mined up to 22 feet in width. Entry and crosscut centers may be from 60 to 100 feet in mains, submains, and panels and may be 50 to 80 feet in rooms. Roof support is provided mostly by resin anchored tension rebar bolts anchored by three feet of resin. The mine operator was complying with the roof control plan at the time of the accident.

Physical Factors:

1. The accident occurred in the crosscut between No. 6 and No. 7 Entries (6 left crosscut) on the No. 2 Unit, MMU 008.

2. The depth of overburden at the accident location was 974 feet.

3. The Pattiki Mine extracts coal from the Herrin No. 6 Coal Seam by the room and pillar method, utilizing continuous mining machines on two eight-hour shifts per day. Coal seam height throughout the mine averages 61 inches, while the coal seam height at the accident scene measured 92 inches.

4. The No. 2 Unit uses two continuous mining machines and two roof bolting machines. The roof bolting machines used on the section were a Fletcher Roof Ranger dual boom, with a single bar Automated Temporary Roof Support (ATRS), and a Lee Norse single boom. Both machines were equipped with canopies. The victim was the right side operator of the Fletcher machine. The Fletcher roof bolting machine was examined and found to be maintained in safe operating condition.

5. The Automated Temporary Roof Support (ATRS) on the Fletcher dual boom machine was lowered in preparation to move the machine. There was no evidence to indicate that the ATRS contacted the rib as the ATRS was lowered, or caused the release of the roof and rib material.

6. The immediate roof strata consisted of 53 inches of dark gray finely laminated shale overlain by 62 inches of limestone, 66 inches of shale and 54 inches of sandstone which was determined by a core sample taken near the No. 2 Unit.

7. Roof bolts were installed on a maximum of 4 �-foot by 4 �-foot pattern. The bolts nearest to the right rib were installed 13 inches to 24 inches of the coal rib, which exceeded the minimum requirements of the roof control plan. Excel Mining Systems 3/4-inch diameter, grade 75, threaded SRD-Bar roof bolts with nuts were being used. The bolts that were installed in the 6 left crosscut were 72 inches in length and were anchored using three feet of resin. These bolts were installed with Excel 6-inch by 6-inch donut-embossed plates on 6-inch by 18-inch by 2-inch wooden cap blocks.

8. The No. 2 Unit was driven on 70-foot centers with crosscuts turned out of the belt entry on 90-degree angles and the crosscuts of the outer entries were turned on 65-degree angles. The 6 left crosscut was turned at Survey Station 25770. The section had been advanced with five entries for two crosscuts and an additional entry had been added on each side of the unit. Development at the time of the accident was in the second crosscut of this seven-entry configuration.

9. The first cut of coal taken out of the 6 left crosscut between No. 6 and No. 7 Entries was approximately 22 feet in depth, and was mined on the previous production shift. Roof material fell during the first cut and was removed, and the area supported. One row of roof bolts was installed at the face of this first cut to re-establish the original roof line.

10. On the day of the accident, the second cut of coal taken out of the 6 left crosscut was approximately 24 feet, mining into No. 7 Entry. The roof in the second cut did not fall immediately, but eventually fell out approximately two feet above the top of the coal seam.

11. Four to six inches of top coal had been left on the last mining cut in the 6 left crosscut, reducing the crosscut height to 84 inches. The width of the crosscut varied from 16 � feet to 18 feet.

12. The roof at the accident scene consisted of 13 inches of compacted dark gray shale, overlain by 24 inches of weak, thinly laminated, dark gray shale which had little laminar cohesion giving it a "stack rock" appearance.

13. Prior to roof bolting the 6 left crosscut, the miner helper used the continuous mining machine to cut and ramp the fallen roof material to enable the bolting machine to tram onto the rock to permit installation of roof bolts.

14. The roof bolters installed five rows of bolts in the crosscut. Sometime during the installation of the five rows of bolts, additional roof material fell in front of the roof bolting machine, which prevented the machine from being advanced any further until this material could be removed or ramped.

15. The victim, Mark Wargel, was walking outby along the right side of the machine while Jason Gross was preparing to tram the roof bolting machine out of the crosscut when the accident occurred. The right side of the bolting machine was four feet from the rib at the time of the accident. The crosscut was bolted to within 13 feet of the No. 7 Entry. Water was encountered when the roof bolting machine operators were bolting this crosscut. This was the only location on the section where water was observed.

16. The rock that pinned the victim against the bolting machine was approximately 7 � feet long, 2 feet in width, and approximately 22 inches in thickness and consisted of coal and shale (11 inches medium-bedded calcareous brittle shale and 11 inches of coal). The new rib line that was formed by the fall was observed to be approximately 2 � to 3 feet from the outside bolts.

17. The examination of the preshift/onshift examiners's report revealed that the examinations for the No. 2 Unit, MMU 008 working section were being made and the results properly recorded. No hazardous conditions were recorded for the preshift examination the shift prior to the accident. A review of the operator's examination record books did not reveal any violations.

18. During the course of the investigation, previous accidents and injuries were reviewed. Most of these accidents were found to have occurred in other areas of the mine under various mining conditions. Although the number of roof and rib type accidents had increased in the past year, these did not show any direct correlation to this fatal accident.

19. Means or measures for the control of the ribs were not being employed.


The accident and resultant fatality occurred when the victim was positioned between the roof bolting machine and rib material that fell. A combination of factors contributed to the rib collapse: (1) The overburden in this mine is in excess of 900 feet. This overburden induces high vertical loads on the pillars. (2) Water was observed dripping from the mine roof strata, which may have weakened the roof strata and contributed to the fall of roof material. (3) The above normal rib height created by the fallen roof material and high coal height decreased the stability of the ribs and increased sloughage. At the time of the accident, the rib material was not supported or otherwise controlled to protect the victim while he was working in the area where the rib fall occurred, which resulted in his fatal injuries.


The following orders/citations were issued due to conditions revealed during the investigation.

103(k) Order No. 7567530 was issued on January 26, 2000, to ensure the safety of all persons in the mine until an investigation was completed and all areas and equipment were deemed safe. The 103(k) Order was terminated on January 31, 2000.

A 104(a) Citation No. 7561892 was issued citing 30 CFR 75.202(a). The roof and rib were not adequately supported or otherwise controlled to protect persons from hazards related to falls of roof, face or ribs and coal or rock bursts, where persons were required to work or travel.

Approved by:

District Manager

Related Fatal Alert Bulletin:


Listed Below Are Those Persons Who Participated and/or Were Present During the Investigation:

Charles R. Wesley, III..........................Sr. Vice President - Operations
Michael Meighen..................................General Manager - Operations
Mark Kitchen.......................................General Mine Foreman
Danny Franklin.....................................Mine Foreman
Tommy J. Steele..................................Safety Director
Phillip Kittinger....................................Section Foreman
George (Pete) Yates............................Section Foreman
Alan Kern.............................................Mine Engineer

Kim Underwood ..........................Office of Mines and Minerals
Art Rice.......................................Administrative Assistant
Tom Patterson..............................Inspector Supervisor - Mine Safety
Jerry Odle....................................Mine Inspector
Mary Jo Bishop............................Mine Inspector

Mark A. Odum..........................Supervisory Mining Engineer (Roof Control)
Lonnie E. Bryant..........................Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Wolfgang J. W. Kaak...................Mine Safety and Health Specialist
Michael E. Pike.............................Mine Safety and Health Specialist
John R. Winstead..........................Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Jimmy M. Conley..........................Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector
Don F. Braenovich..........................Division of Safety
Raymond Mazzoni..........................Mechanical Engineer, Technical Support, Roof Control Division
John Cook.......................................Mining Engineer, Technical Support, Roof Control Division


Listed Below are Those Persons Who Were Interviewed or Provided Information That Was Pertinent to the Investigation:

Wendell Jason Gross..........................Miner/Roof Bolter Operator
Murray Shoulders................................Miner/Scoop Tractor Operator
Barry Chinn.........................................Miner/Continuous Mining Machine Operator
Joseph Sparrow..................................Miner/Continuous Mining Machine Operator/Helper
George (Pete) Yates..........................Section Foreman
Tommy J. Steele................................Safety Director
David Conrad..................................Miner/Examiner
Donnie Snyder....................................Miner/Repairman
Tony Snyder......................................Miner/Roof Bolting Machine Operator