ST. LOUIS – Two workers fell to their deaths Friday inside a southeast Missouri mine that has been the site of two other fatal accidents since 2000.
The accident happened about 8:30 a.m. Friday at a lime mine operated by the Mississippi Lime Co. near the town of Ste. Genevieve, about 60 miles south of St. Louis.
Ste. Genevieve County Coroner Leo Basler said the men were in a basket, or boom, extended from a truck several feet below, removing loose rock from either the wall or the ceiling of the mine.
“From what I understand some of that rock came loose and hit the boom and detached it,” Basler said.
No one else was hurt.
The company identified the workers as 53-year-old John Hahl, of Farmington, Mo., and 29-year-old Chris Rawson, of Hillsboro, Mo.
St. Louis-based Mississippi Lime Co. makes calcium products and calcium-based solutions. Company President Bill Ayers said in a statement that all operations at the mine have been stopped during the investigation by the Mine Safety and Health Administration. Investigators are already on the scene, MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere said.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and colleagues of the two team members who died this morning,” Ayers said in the statement.
“Our initial investigation indicates there was an accident involving a piece of underground mining equipment. Emergency crews were called immediately, but were unable to save the team members. “
The mine has been the site of at least two other fatal accidents, according to data from the Mine Safety and Health Administration.
On April 4, 2002, maintenance mechanic Jerry L. Vaughn, 54, was killed when he was struck by a dust collector bag that had been dropped from a third-floor window. MSHA ruled that the accident happened because the drop area had not been cleared or secured, and that no warning was given before the bags were dropped.
On June 13, 2007, contract welder Skeets Myrick, 45, was injured when a pipe shifted abruptly and struck him. Myrick died six days later. MSHA blamed the contractor’s policies and work procedures that failed to ensure that workers stay clear of suspended loads.
Associated Press reporter Jim Suhr contributed to this report.