During the afternoon of August 15, 1985, explosives were detonated in the face of the No. 3 mine
while the crew lunched outside. Once time had passed for smoke and fumes, four miners reentered
the mine in three scoops.
One scoop was occupied by assistant mine foreman Reed McKiddy; a second scoop was occupied by drilling machine helper Robert Bauer and miner Randy Powers; and a third was occupied by scoop operator Rick Bauer.
Throughout the afternoon, these four individuals loaded and hauled coal to the surface. Normal activities,
however, ceased at approximately 4:00 p.m., when McKiddy's scoop became stuck in the face area, and he was overcome by carbon monoxide.
Attempting to save McKiddy, Robert Bauer and Powers exited their scoop, approached the stuck scoop, tried to free it by tying a chain to it, dragged the stricken miner from the vehicle, and attempted to revive him. Both Robert Bauer and Powers were overcome during this rescue effort.
Rick Bauer, the fourth miner present in the area, then left his scoop and joined the rescue effort, only to lose consciousness himself. Shortly thereafter, Robert Bauer miraculously regained consciousness
long enough to drag Rick Bauer into fresh air and then return to the problem area. Unfortunately, after
reaching Powers, Bauer was again overcome.
Meanwhile, other miners - concerned about the four men's prolonged absence - entered and searched
the mine. Coming upon the stricken miners, the rescuers found the unconscious Robert Bauer cradling Powers in his arms. Although the rescuers rushed all four miners to the surface, only Rick Bauer survived. Autopsies indicate that Robert Bauer, McKiddy and Powers had died of acute carbon monoxide poisoning.
MSHA attributed the accident to management's failure to provide adequate ventilation to carry away and
render harmless dangerous gases and fumes.
Poisonous gases, fumes and carbon monoxide had been produced by the simultaneous blasting of coal from the solid faces of at least one unventilated three-way intersection.
The accident was compounded by management's failure to provide the miners with self-rescue devices and by the lack of training and experience of the assistant mine foreman and the miners.
Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States - Volume II