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District 4



Winoc No. 1 (ID No. 46-08544)
Copperas Coal Corporation
Bickmore, Clay County, West Virginia
September 18, 1999


William H. Uhl, Jr.
Coal Mine Safety and Health Inspector

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


Copperas Coal Corp., Winoc No.1 mine, ID No. 46-08544 is located on Fola Road near Bickmore, Clay County, West Virginia. The principal officers are Gary D. Spurlock, president; Mark A. McClure, superintendent; and Billy J. Harless, safety director. Copperas Coal Corporation contracts management personnel to operate the Winoc No. 1 mine from Coalfield Enterprises, Inc., ID. No. R58. Principal officers for Coalfield Enterprises, Inc., are Barry Elliott, president; Mark A McClure, executive vice president; Gary Burns, secretary; and Gary D. Spurlock, treasurer. Coalfield Enterprises, Inc., contracts labor employees from Lightning Contract Services, Inc., ID. No. 8CV. Principal officers for Lightning Contract Services Inc., are Gary D. Spurlock, registered agent; and Gary Burns, director.

The mine employees thirty-four underground miners and three surface miners, making a total of thirty-seven employees. The mine produces coal six days per week on the day and evening shifts and performs maintenance on the midnight shift. Average daily production is 1,550 tons from one continuous-mining section. Coal is transported from the working faces by shuttle cars and from the section dumping point to the surface by belt conveyance. The miners enter the lower Kittanning coalbed, which averages 70 inches in thickness, via rubber-tired battery-powered mantrip. The immediate roof is comprised of 10-to-12 feet of sandy shale with an intermittent coal rider and is supported with 6-foot fully-grouted resin rods. Ventilation is provided for the mine by a 4-foot blowing fan which produces approximately 100,000 cubic feet of air per minute (cfm). The mine does not have detectable methane liberations. The approved roof-control plan permits deep cuts of up to 40 feet in depth to be made where roof conditions permit.

This mine began operation approximately March 1999 entering the Lower Kittanning coalbed through four drift openings and had advanced approximately 2,400 feet.

The last regular safety and health (AAA) inspection was completed on July 13, 1999.


On Saturday, September 18, 1999, the 001-0 evening shift section crew entered the mine at 4:00 p.m., under the supervision of section foreman, Randal Arthur. Upon arriving on the working section at approximately 4:30 p.m., the section crew began routine production and continued without interruption until approximately 11:40 p.m.

At approximately 11:25 p.m., the roof-bolting crew entered the No. 4 heading to begin roof bolting operations. Kenneth Bibb was the left-side roof-bolter operator. The victim and right-side roof-bolter operator was Eudell Dickerson. The entry was advanced inby the last open crosscut a total of 74 feet. The last row of permanent roof supports was measured at 42-1/2 feet inby the crosscut. A deep cut had been mined in the heading and was 31-1/2 feet deep. The entry width measured 19-1/2 feet and the mining height was measured at 72 inches.

Roof bolting operations commenced immediately after the place was examined and no adverse conditions had been detected. At the completion of installing the second row of roof bolts, the bolting crew was in the process of positioning the DDO-13 Fletcher bolting machine for the third row of bolts. Bibb was positioned at the inch control station and was in the process of placing the T-Bar type ATRS against the roof. Dickerson was standing at the next to the last row of bolts on the right side of the machine. He had just communicated to Bibb that the machine was in position for the next row of bolts to be installed. At approximately 11:40 p.m., as Dickerson was turning to retrieve a roof bolt from the machine, a piece of roof broke at the right side of the ATRS and fell, riding outby along the right rib for two rows of bolts, striking him in one solid mass. As the roof fell it struck the right-side operator's drill station canopy, breaking the rock mass. A piece of rock measuring approximately 3 feet wide by 4 feet long by 3-to-4 inches thick continued to push the victim to the mine floor coming to rest on his abdomen and legs. Total dimensions of the roof fall were estimated to be 3-to-5 feet wide and 8-to-10 feet in length by 3-to-4 inches thick.

Bibb stated that he saw the roof fall strike Dickerson and called for help as he ran to the other side of the machine. Ronnie L. Boley, scoop operator, was located just outby them in the crosscut between Nos. 3 and 4 entries and came to his assistance immediately. Bibb held up the rock as Boley pulled the victim clear of the fall and stayed with the victim as Bibb went to call for additional help and to call for an ambulance.

Randal Arthur, section foreman/EMT, stated that 4-to-6 inches of water was present in the No. 4 entry and that Dickerson was lying in the water. Boley was holding the victim's head and shoulders as he first approached the accident scene. Other crew members arrived within seconds, including EMT/shuttle-car operator, Ronald Lee Blake. Charles Sigmon, shuttle-car operator, brought the stretcher and first-aid equipment to the scene.

Blake stated that Dickerson was placed on the stretcher from the position where he was first freed from the rock fall. Dickerson's feet were still at the outby edge of the fall and he stated that he could not feel or move his legs.

Blake stated that after the victim was secured to the backboard he was placed on a rubber-tired battery-powered mantrip and transported to the surface. Roger Laws operated the mantrip while three of the crew assisted in stabilizing Dickerson as they exited the mine. The time of recovery was estimated at approximately 40 minutes from the time the accident occurred to the time the victim arrived at the surface. The Clay County Ambulance Service arrived at 12:30 a.m., approximately 10 minutes after the victim arrived at the mine portal. The Clay County Ambulance Service transported the victim to a nearby makeshift landing zone for the Health Net helicopter and departure was estimated to be 1:20 a.m. Dickerson was flown directly to the Charleston Area Medical Center where he was treated for crushing injuries to the abdomen. Statements obtained from the victim's wife indicate that both of Dickerson's legs, pelvis and back were broken and that he had five operations and remained hospitalized. On October 14, 1999, at 10:55p.m., twenty-seven days after receiving crushing injuries in the roof-fall accident, Dickerson died at the Charleston Area Medical Center from a form of bacterial infection.


Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) was notified on Monday, September 20, 1999, at approximately 8:00 a.m., that a roof-fall accident had occurred at the Winoc No.1 mine on September 18, 1999, about 11:40 p.m., and the victim (Eudell Dickerson), right-side roof- bolting-machine operator, was in the hospital and the injuries sustained were not life threatening. MSHA roof-control specialist, Forest Dickerson, and West Virginia office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training roof-control specialist, Alvin Sowder, were already en route to the mine with the intent of conducting a roof-control inspection. After being informed of the accident, a CAA spot inspection was conducted which revealed no contributory violations with the approved roof- control plan or the equipment involved in the accident.

On October 15, 1999, at approximately 3:45 p.m., MSHA was notified again indicating that the victim had died during surgery on October 14, 1999. MSHA and West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training jointly conducted the investigation, assisted by mine management personnel and the miners. Interviews of individuals at the mine known to have actual knowledge of the facts surrounding the accident were conducted at the Winoc mine office on the evening shift, October 18, 1999. The only eyewitness to the accident no longer worked at this mine and was interviewed at MSHA's Summersville field office on October 19, 1999.

The on-site portion of the investigation began on October 18, 1999, on the day shift. A list of those persons present and/or participating in the investigation is included in the Appendix. Upon arriving at the mine, all parties were briefed concerning the circumstances surrounding the accident. Information was obtained from mine management and the miners as to whom had personal knowledge of the accident. Representatives from all parties traveled to the area where the accident had occurred. The actual scene could not be observed, as mining had resumed in the area on September 20, 1999. The active section and working faces were now advanced several crosscuts inby. A survey of the area was conducted, based on the information provided by MSHA, State, and management personnel who had been in the area on September 20, 1999, and a sketch of the area was produced based on this information.

A 103(k) order was not issued during this investigation. A citation was issued to the operator for failure to immediately notify MSHA of the accident.



Records indicate that training had been conducted in accordance with Part 48. An examination of Eudell Dickerson's training records revealed that he had received all required training. Annual refresher training was provided by Billy J. Harless of Lightning Contract Services, Inc., on May 22, 1999. Experienced miner training was provided by Randall Arthur for Copperas Coal Corp., on July 13, 1999. Task training was provided for Dickerson on the DDO-13 Fletcher roof-bolting machine by Randall Arthur on July 14, 1999. Testimony and records indicate that Eudell Dickerson had approximately 21 years experience as a roof-bolting-machine operator.

Roof Control

The immediate roof in the area of the accident consisted of 4-to-18 inches of dark shale with a coal rider seam varying from 1-to-5 inches in thickness. The thickness of the dark shale exposed would vary depending on how much of the immediate roof is mined during each cut sequence. A white or gray hard, firm shale is above the rider seam. The Lower Kittanning coal seam in the area averages 70 inches. The mine floor is comprised of shale at 10 feet plus in thickness. The mining height in the No. 4 entry averages 72 inches. Approximately 3-to-4 inches of the immediate roof in the area of the accident had been mined, leaving 3-to-4 inches of dark shale and approximately 1 inch of coal rider seam exposed at the point of the fall.

The roof in the area was supported utilizing 6-foot fully-grouted resin rods supplemented with 6 by 10 inch bearing plates on 4-foot lengthwise and 4-to-5 foot crosswise spacing. The depth of cover over the coal bed was approximately 300 feet at the accident site. The mine floor was wet and the roof and ribs were relatively dry at the time of this investigation. There was no evidence of excessive pressure on the pillars in any portion of the mine from the mine portal to the area where the accident occurred.

Testimony from the eyewitness of the accident indicates that no adverse conditions had been detected upon examining the area to be bolted in the No. 4 entry or any other entry on the working section. The roof-bolting crew had installed two rows of bolts according to the sequence stipulated in the approved roof-control plan and was in the process of moving the machine up to install the third row of bolts, when the accident occurred. The operator/ eyewitness stated that he was placing the T-Bar type ATRS against the roof when the roof rock fell and rode outby down the right rib, striking Dickerson.


1. The mining height in the area of the accident was 72 inches.

2. The entry width measured 19 feet 6 inches.

3. The No. 4 entry was advanced inby the last open crosscut 74 feet.

4. The last deep cut mined in the No. 4 entry measured 31-1/2 feet.

5. The roof-bolting crew had installed two rows of bolts in the No. 4 entry and was positioning the machine to install the next row of bolts when the accident occurred.

6. The distance from the last row of bolts installed to the face measured 24 feet.

7. The roof-bolting machine being used was a DDO-13 Fletcher, equipped with a T-Bar type ATRS.

8. There were no equipment defects observed, as indicated when functional tests were conducted.

9. The immediate roof in the area of the accident consisted of 4-to-18 inches of dark shale with a coal rider seam varying from 1-to-5 inches. A hard white/gray shale is above the rider seam.

10. The thickness of the dark shale in each place would vary depending on how much of the immediate roof is mined.

11. At the area of the accident, 3-to-4 inches of dark shale with approximately 1 inch of coal rider was observed.

12. The pattern of bolt installation at the accident scene was consistent with the requirements of the approved roof-control plan at 4-foot lengthwise and 4-to-5 feet crosswise.

13. The portion of roof that fell striking the victim measured 3-to-5 feet wide by 8-to-10 feet long by 3-to-4 inches thick.

14. The rock mass broke as it fell, striking the canopy at the right-side drill operating station.

15. The rock moved from atop the victim was approximately 3 feet wide by 4 feet long by 3-to-4 inches thick.

16. Based on testimony, the victim was standing at the next to the last row of bolts installed when the accident occurred.

17. The roof fall started at the right side of the ATRS T-Bar as the ATRS was being placed against the roof.

18. The fall extended from the T-Bar outby along the right rib and breaking out around the last two bolts installed on the right rib side of the entry.

19. Kenneth Bibb, left-side roof-bolter operator witnessed the accident.

20. The examination of the preshift/onshift examiners' report revealed that the examinations for the 001-0 working section were being made and the results properly recorded. No hazardous conditions were recorded in the time frame of the accident.

21. Eyewitness, Kenneth Bibb, stated that examination of the work place did not reveal any adverse roof conditions; nor were any observed during the installation of the first two rows of bolts prior to the accident.


The accident and resulting injuries occurred when, without warning, an undetected loose portion of the roof fell as the ATRS was being positioned against the roof. The fall extended outby past two rows of bolts and struck the victim.


There were no contributory violations observed or revealed during this investigation.

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