united states mine rescue association Mine Disasters in the United States
Sea "B" Mining Company Seaboard No. 2 Mine Roof Fall
Jewell Ridge, Tazewell County, Virginia
July 15, 1997
No. Killed - 2
Description of Accident
On Tuesday, July 15, 1997, the third shift (midnight) production crew, consisting of 10 underground miners entered the mine at 12:01 a.m., under the supervision of James Colley, Section Foreman. Upon arriving on the section at approximately 12:20 a.m., Colley met Rodney Glover, Section Foreman second shift, at the section coal belt conveyor feeder and discussed the pillar mining conditions on the section. The crew proceeded to their job sites and began their assigned tasks. Coy Witt, Continuous Mining Machine Helper and Lee Miller, Continuous Mining Machine Operator, traveled to the No. 4 entry where the remote control continuous mining machine was parked at the left pillar cut. The cut of coal had not been completed by the previous shift. Miller finished mining this cut and then proceeded to mine a cut in the adjacent right pillar off the No. 4 entry. Andy Brown, Roof Bolting Machine Operator/Timberman, and Kenneth Mitchell, Roof Bolting Machine Operator/Timberman, were instructed by Colley to install the required breaker and turn posts as mining advanced across the pillar line on the section from the No. 4 entry to the No. 2 entry.
During this time frame, Colley made an examination of the pillar line and detected a crack in the mine roof in the outby right side edge of the intersection in the No. 3 entry and a crack in the inby edge in the intersection in the No. 2 entry. Colley notified Witt and Miller of the cracks and told them to be careful. As mining progressed, the bottom-end cut, between Nos. 4 and 5 entries, was completed and the mining machine was moved to the No. 3 entry. Mining progressed in the No. 3 entry without incident.
The left, right, and bottom-end (between No. 3 and 4 entries) cuts were mined and upon completion, the mining machine was trammed to the No. 2 entry. Brown and Mitchell had installed and precut posts for installation as mining had advanced to the No. 2 entry. Two additional posts were installed near the inby edge of the intersection in the No. 2 entry where the crack was detected. Witt began mining the right cut in the pillar block between Nos. 2 and 3 entries. During mining, the breaker posts that had been installed in the crosscut along the left rib-line at the No. 3 entry intersection, began taking weight and were beginning to crack. At this time Colley, returning from the belt conveyor feeder, traveled to the area where the breaker posts were taking weight.
After monitoring the area, Colley returned to the No. 2 entry and instructed Bill Richardson, Scoop Operator, to obtain additional posts, from the section supply station. As mining continued, Colley, Miller, and Brown were located in the crosscut to the right of the No. 2 entry near the two additional posts and were monitoring the mine roof. Witt, operating the continuous mining machine by remote control, was standing on the right side of the No. 2 entry inby the intersection, and was waiting for another shuttle car to arrive. As Jennings Williams, Shuttle Car Operator, returned for a load of coal, and was positioning his shuttle car under the boom of the continuous mining machine, Colley realized that the mine roof in the crosscut was beginning to fall. He shouted for everybody to get out of the area and for Witt to tram the continuous mining machine out of the cut. Mitchell, who was standing between the breaker posts in the left crosscut of the No. 2 entry, immediately traveled outby the intersection to safety with Miller, Williams and Brown. The mine roof in the intersection and the crosscut to the right collapsed crushing Witt and Colley under the fallen roof material.
Recovery efforts were begun immediately by the midnight crew members and the day shift crew members, who had just arrived on the section. Mine officials on the surface were notified of the accident and were requested to provide additional aid. Colley was recovered at 9:45 a.m. and Witt recovered at 10:40 a.m. The Mine Safety and Health Administration and Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy were notified of the accident and assisted in the recovery effort.