On August 20, 2009, the 58-year-old miner with 33 years experience was preparing to set timbers in an entryway when a rock measuring 26 ft long, 2.5 ft wide and 5 ft high toppled, and struck and crushed him. One day earlier, a hazardous condition noting excessive (wide) entry width in the No. 4 Entry had been logged in the pre-shift book, but the operator failed to correct the condition and made no notations in the evening on-shift and pre-shift reports.

A combination of factors occurred prior to the accident. MSHA investigators determined the mine operator: 1) did not properly use a sightline or other directional control to maintain the projected direction of mining; 2) failed to follow the approved roof control plan 3) failed to perform adequate pre-shift and on-shift examinations; and 4) failed to adequately support the rib. The first two determinations were flagged as flagrant violations, which can carry fines up to $220,000 each.