MSHA issues Report of Investigation on truck driver who drowned in Texas

The Mine Safety and Health Administration[1] (MSHA) released its Report of Investigation[2] regarding the fifth fatal accident of 2018 that occurred at the King Sand and Gravel Mine in Kerens, Texas. On June 13, Aurelio Perez Sr., a 65-year-old truck driver with four years of experience, drowned when the articulated haul truck he was driving traveled through a berm and submerged in a water impoundment.

On the morning of the accident, two other haul truck drivers had noticed Perez being a bit distracted while driving, but didn’t think much of it. Then, one of the other drivers said he was heading for the pit around 10 a.m. when he noticed tire tracks on the berm and some spilled material that had not been there earlier in the shift. He did not stop to investigate, but on his return trip, he encountered another driver on the road where the spilled material and tracks were on the berm.

They both stated the spilled material and tracks were new, but they did not observe anything abnormal in the water, but started looking for Perez. One looked in the plant, while the other looked in the pit area. One of the drivers looked around the yard, shop, and ready line and finally stopped at the mine office at 11:40 a.m. to report that he couldn’t find Perez.

The dispatcher immediately notified the plant manager of the concern. He and the victim’s son went to the berm where the drivers had seen the tracks and spilled material and concluded that the truck must have traveled over the berm and entered the water impoundment.

The plant manager called the MSHA Dallas District office to report that a miner was missing and possibly submerged in a water impoundment. He then called 911 at 12:02 p.m.

When the MSHA inspector arrived on the scene shortly after 3 p.m., divers had already entered the water and found Perez unrestrained inside the cab of the haul truck. Investigators determined that the haul truck had functional steering, and emergency park and service braking systems capable of stopping and steering the truck in an emergency. Several non-contributory issues were discovered during the examination — the audible low air pressure alarm had been disabled; the accumulators for both front and rear service brake circuits failed the accumulator test specified by Volvo’s service manual; and both the front and rear service brake circuits had hydraulic components that were leaking back to the tank, allowing both accumulators circuits to lose hydraulic pressure without cycling the brakes.

The truck was sent to ROMCO Equipment Co. for service after the brakes were reported to have locked up on the rear axle in April 2018. It was put back in service on June 7, 2018, one week before the fatal accident, with all systems working properly. MSHA investigators also determined that Perez and all the haul truck drivers were properly trained and had received their annual refresher on February 10, 2018.

Perez had received New Miner Training on February 10, 2015, and was task trained to drive the Volvo A40D Haul Truck on July 20, 2015. CONCLUSION Aurelio Perez Sr. drowned when the articulated haul truck he was operating left the road, traveled over a berm, and entered a water impoundment.

There were no eye witnesses to the accident and, from the investigation, the investigators were unable to determine why the driver was unable to maintain control of equipment.


  1. ^ Mine Safety and Health Administration (
  2. ^ Report of Investigation (

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