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Women Killed in Mine Accidents

Overland Services, Inc. (Contractor)
Stavola Construction Materials
Overland Services Electrical Fatality

Bound Brook, Somerset County, New Jersey
August 8, 1997
No. Killed - 1

MSHA Final Investigation Report  External Link

Other Woman Killed in Mine Accidents

Description of Accident

On the day of the accident, Michael Austin, contractor truck driver and two passengers, Lisa McDowell (victim), and William Richardson, arrived at the mine property at approximately 5:45 a.m., Austin, and several other Overland drivers, loaded their trucks with 3/8-inch material at the self loading material storage bin.  At the scales, he was told by William Bird, weighmaster, that he and several other drivers had the wrong material.  Bird instructed them to go back to the 3/8-inch material stockpile, dump their loads, and reload with dust material.

At approximately 7:00 a.m., Austin drove back to the plant and backed his truck up to the 3/8-inch stockpile.  He stepped out of the cab onto the outside battery box step and watched as he raised the trailer to dump the material.  Austin said he did not see any overhead lines or notice any signs warning of a hazard.

After raising the trailer to its maximum dump position, Austin climbed back into the cab and pulled the unit forward several feet to clear the pile.  As he lowered the bed, he heard a loud popping noise and saw flames coming from the front of the truck.  He immediately stopped lowering the bed and shut off the engine.  Austin opened the driver's side door and began to step down from the truck to get away.  He grabbed the handrail on the outside of the cab and, as he stepped onto the battery box step, he was knocked off the truck by an electrical shock and fell to the ground stunned.  Upon recovering, he shouted to his passengers to get out.

Richardson, who had been in the passenger's seat, had already jumped to the ground without injury.  McDowell, who was barefoot, had been in the sleeper compartment behind the front seats.  Witnesses stated that she grabbed the outside handrail on the passenger side of the cab and, when she stepped on the fuel tank step, she fell to the ground face down.  Austin ran around to the passenger side of the truck and tried to pull her away from the truck but was shocked.  Another truck driver, who witnessed the accident and arrived to help, was also shocked when he tried to pull her away.  It was at this time that Austin looked up, saw the power lines, and realized what had happened.  Austin and the other driver managed to pull McDowell away from the truck by her shirt and started CPR.

Juan Berrios, Jr., plant operator and miners representative, was in the plant control house.  He looked out the window and saw the trailer bed up in the air with sparks at the front of the bed where it was in contact with the overhead high-voltage power lines.  He called on the radio for George Gilliam, Jr., plant supervisor, to cut the power off.  Gilliam received the radio call, drove to the primary substation, and disconnected power to the overhead power lines.

CPR was administered to the victim until the local rescue squad and fire department arrived a short time later.  McDowell and Austin were transported to a local hospital where McDowell was pronounced dead and Austin was treated for electrical shock.

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