Fatality investigation proceeding slowly
August 22, 1999
Craig — Investigation into an accident that caused the death of Joseph Koonce, 42, at Trapper Mine Aug. 12 is proceeding slowly.
Officials with the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) said it will be four to six weeks before the final report is ready for presentation. Until then, officials are hesitant to comment on the cause of death.
“There’s nothing we can actually say,” said Art Gore, field office supervisor for MSHA.
Koonce was killed instantly when a primer from the mine’s blast pattern detonated unexpectedly. It is not known whether the premature blast was the result of human or mechanical error.
Blasting caps are assembled into a booster and lowered into a hole where explosive mixtures are added.
“Preliminarily, it appears the boosters went off prematurely,” said Tommy Hooker, MSHA district manager.
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MSHA officials completed their on-site investigation last week and are working to prepare a final accident report.