On Friday, December 29, 2017, at approximately 12:57 a.m., Thurman Watts, a 34-year-old bulldozer operator with 10 years of mining experience, was fatally injured when the Caterpillar D-9T bulldozer he was operating traveled over a highwall. The bulldozer dropped approximately 100 feet and continued down the spoil bank, coming to rest approximately 400 feet from the top of the highwall. At the time of the accident, Thurman Watts was removing overburden from a coal seam.
The fatal accident occurred because safe work practices were not followed. The ground conditions were irregular. The bulldozer operated by Thurman Watts traveled onto an area of unstable spoil on the top of the highwall. Because of this, the bulldozer was not being operated a safe distance from the edge. The spoil slipped down the highwall face under the bulldozer, causing it to go over the highwall.
Bulldozeer after it fell
Broken Seat Belt Latch