Mine Safety Training Repository
united states mine rescue association
Mine Disasters in the United States

Tank's Poetry

Father Time
See more disasters
from this year
Calendar Image
Mine Disaster Calendar

Zeigler Coal Company
Spartan No. 2 Mine Roof Fall

Sparta, Randolph County, Illinois
September 15, 1980
No. Killed - 3

MSHA Final Investigation Report  (1.3 Mb)  PDF Format
(From the Illinois Department of Mines and Minerals Annual Coal Report)

These three men were fatally injured by a roof fall at approximately 10:00 p.m., Monday, September 15, 1980, while in the performance of their duties at Zeigler Coal Company, Spartan Mine No. 2, Sparta, Randolph County, Illinois.  All three men were apparently killed instantly.

Craig Thomas was operating a loading machine near the face of No. 3 room in the 3rd South at crosscut station No. 690.  William Ashley and Richard Berry were standing nearby to the right of Mr. Thomas's loader.  The first cuts in the crosscut right, crosscut left and the face had been loaded out.

Clarence Logan, shuttle car operator had just pulled under the loader when he noticed some small chips of rock fall from the roof.  Mr. Logan started flagging Craig Thomas while backing the shuttle car from under the loader when a massive roof fall occurred above the anchorage of the roof bolts.  The fall was approximately 50 feet in length, 40 feet in width and 6 feet thick.

Richard Berry, and William Ashley were recovered at 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, September 16, 1980, and Craig Thomas was recovered at 8:00 p.m., Tuesday, September 16, 1980.

  • William D. Ashley, of Steelville, Bottom Loader, 47, married, two dependents
  • Richard Berry, of Pittsburg, Mine Foreman, 43, married, two dependents
  • Craig M. Thomas, of Coulterville, Loading Machine Operator, 30, married, four dependents

On September 15, 1980, miners in the No. 2 South Entry of the Spartan Mine encountered signs of subnormal roof conditions.  These signs included a roof bolt ping heard nearby the shooter near the face, and unusually soft drilling encountered by the roof bolt operator.  Although these signs were discussed with the section foreman, additional supports were not installed.

At about 10:00 p.m., the shuttle car operator observed portions of the roof fall near the face of the No. 2 South Entry.  Immediately after, he reversed the shuttle car, and "flagged" his cap lamp to warn three nearby miners of the apparent problem.  The three miners, however, were fatally injured in the roof fall that quickly followed.

MSHA investigators attributed the disaster to management's failure to provide supplemental roof supports, as required by the approved roof control plan, in an area where subnormal roof conditions were encountered.  In addition to the relatively soft drilling and the ping detected by miners on September 15, MSHA investigators identified the following additional ignored indications of subnormal roof conditions:

The existence of a fracture in the roof in the No. 3 entry that extended from the outby end of the fall to and including the second open crosscut from the face.

The presence in the fracture of previously applied rock dust indicated that the fracture had existed for some time.  Nevertheless, this hazardous condition was not mentioned in a report from a preshift examination that was conducted 15 minutes before the accident occurred.

Inadequate torque pressure on some roof bolts that had been installed without header boards just outby the accident area.  Entries exceeding maximum widths stipulated in the approved roof control plan.

Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States - Volume II

See more about these products