Injured miner listed in critical condition

Cause of accident still under investigation

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— Officials are still investigating the exact cause of an accident at Twentymile Coal Company Tuesday that left miner Kyle Webb in critical condition at the Denver Health Medical Center.

Webb was unconscious Wednesday, suffering from a serious head injury, hospital spokeswoman Stephanie Denning said.

He was transported to Denver Health at around 7:30 p.m. after doctors at the Yampa Valley Medical Center listed him in critical condition.

Webb also has numerous internal injuries but doctors at Denver Health are focusing most of their attention to the head injury. His condition isn't expected to improve soon, Denning said.

Around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday, Webb fell about 30 to 40 feet off an access ladder while he was working on a bin that was clogged with rocks, Twentymile spokesman Ron Spangler said. After Webb fell, rocks hit him in the head while he was on the ground.

The bin that was clogged is designed to funnel rocks from one conveyer belt that was on an upper level of the underground mine to another conveyer belt on a lower lever. A clog in the device is not a common occurrence.

"It hasn't ever happened before," Spangler said.

Investigators want to determine if the accident was caused by the equipment failing, Spangler said.

The equipment in the area where Webb fell is approximately six months old.

Though many miners saw Webb hit the ground, no one saw what caused him to fall.

"Some rocks did fall but we don't know if the rocks hit him before he fell," Spangler said.

Furthermore, investigators don't know if the rocks fell before or after Webb toppled off the ladder, he said.

"We know he fell, and that's about all we do know. He was the only one on the upper level when the accident happened," Investigator Gary Sigman of Routt County Sheriff's Office said. "Unfortunately, we haven't been able to talk to Kyle."

According to a state statute, it is the sheriff's department's responsibility to investigate industrial accidents.

Foul play is not an issue in the investigation, Sigman said.

Sigman and Phil Gibson from the Mine Safety and Health Administration interviewed about 10 miners on Tuesday and Wednesday in hopes of getting a clearer picture of what happened. They also took pictures of the scene of the accident.

Webb, 25, is a certified emergency medical technician. He lives in Hayden and has worked at Twentymile since March of 1996.

"He's a fine young man, an excellent worker and very safety conscious," Spangler said.


To reach Doug Crowl call 871-4206 or e-mail dcrowl@amigo.net

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