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Women Killed in Mine Accidents

BHP Navajo Coal Company
Navajo Mine Powered Haulage Accident

Fruitland, San Juan County, New Mexico
July 21, 2011
No. Killed - 1

Other Woman Killed in Mine Accidents

The Operator contested both MSHA's jurisdiction and the substance of the citations in this case.  During discovery and the litigation process, MSHA learned that it did not have jurisdiction over the road where the fatal accident occurred.  The portion of the road was open to the public and not under the control of the Mine Operator.  Based on this, MSHA determined that the fatality should be delisted and should not be charged to the mining industry.

Description of Accident

On July 21, 2011, at approximately 2:30 p.m., Jeri L. Etsitty (victim) and Jolene Begay, Fleet Management System (FMS) Administrative Technicians reported for the start of their shift at the Administration building.

At approximately 8:00 p.m., William Thompson, Account Manager for P&H Mine Pro Services, picked up pizzas in Farmington, New Mexico, to deliver to the P&H night shift crew working at the dragline repair site at the Navajo Mine.  He traveled to the mine site in a P&H company vehicle, a Ford Model F150 pickup truck.

The shift proceeded as usual until around 8:00 p.m., when stopped for their lunch break.  Etsitty and Begay had a cookout near the Administration building, along with several of their co-workers.  After the cookout, at about 8:45 p.m., they left the mine area and started walking across the parking lot and continued along the curve of the entrance road facing the oncoming traffic.

BHP had a wellness program which encouraged personnel to participate in physical activity at some point in their work day.  This roadway was often used for walking by participants of this program.  Etsitty and Begay continued walking easterly, along the mine access road towards the cattle guard (an iron grating in the roadway that prevents the open-range grazing cattle from entering the mine property, see Appendix D) at the east end of the road.

Just before Etsitty and Begay reached the cattle guard, Janitor, Laverne Peshlakai, was leaving the mine and stopped to talk to them.  Peshlakai asked if they wanted a ride.  Etsitty and Begay declined the offer and started to walk back towards the mine on the other side of the road.  A Wagner Equipment Company service truck approached in front of Etsitty and Begay, and they walked to the other side of the road.  Begay stated that the ladies would walk on the same side as oncoming traffic, but vacate the lane to the opposite side of the road when oncoming traffic approached.

After crossing to the other side, Begay stated she thought a vehicle was coming from behind them.  Etsitty told Begay, she (Etsitty) thought it was the approaching Wagner service truck that Begay heard.  At about 9:04 p.m., the Wagner service truck passed them on the opposite side of the road.

Immediately after the service truck passed, Etsitty and Begay heard a vehicle going over the cattle guard behind them.  Begay remarked to Etsitty concerning her belief the truck was traveling at a high rate of speed, "Isn't there a speed limit sign?  Doesn't that person see the sign, pedestrians walking?"

Etsitty said to Begay, "Let's go across to the other side." The two women turned to go to the opposite side of the road to vacate the traffic lane, when Etsitty was struck by the pickup truck driven by Thompson.

After the impact, Thompson stopped his pickup truck with his right tires off the road.  The service truck driver, Kris Lindorff, noticed the pickup had stopped on the shoulder of the road.  Lindorff stopped his service truck and proceeded to back to where the pickup truck was stopped.  Lindorff exited his truck and ran to where Etsitty was laying.  Lindorff found no pulse on Etsitty's wrist, neck, or sternum.  Lindorff then started cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

Lindorff called the Area 3 Security Office and reported the accident.  He also requested the mine rescue team and instructed security to contact the Navajo Police and San Juan Valley Fire Department.

Abel Peter, a contactor employee with Acme, left the mine shortly after Lindorff, and arrived at the accident scene after the collision and helped in comforting Begay.

The Navajo Mine Rescue Team and Vernon Bedoni, Front Line Supervisor, arrived at the accident scene.  The San Juan Regional Ambulance and Navajo Police arrived on scene and Etsitty was pronounced dead at the site at approximately 12:00 a.m. on July 22, 2011.

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