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Worn-out brakes caused accident that killed truck driver at Buckhorn Mine

UPDATED: Mon., June 5, 2017

Worn-out brakes on a dump truck caused a December accident that fatally injured a contract worker at the Buckhorn Mine in Okanogan County, the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration has determined.

Robert Aprato Jr., 39, was hauling ore from the mine to the milling site on Dec. 21 when he called over the radio “no brakes,” according to the accident report. He was driving down a steep grade with curves on a roadway covered with snow and ice. The truck and trailer went over an embankment and overturned. Aprato later died of his injuries.

Aprato was an employee of Giddings Excavation in Republic, Washington.

An MSHA investigation determined that the brakes on the truck and trailer hadn’t been properly maintained. Brake linings were worn out, contaminated with oil and out of adjustment, investigators said. There was also evidence of water and ice in the air brake supply line, the investigation found.

“The defects had existed for an extended period of time. … There were no indications or records that maintenance or repairs had been conducted for the braking system in the months that this truck was hauling ore at the mine,” the accident report said.

Giddings Excavation was cited by MSHA for aggravated conduct for not maintaining the brakes. Giddings was a subcontractor for ACI Northwest Inc. of Coeur d’Alene, which provides labor and equipment to haul gold ore from the mine to the mill site.

Since the accident, Giddings and ACI retrained all haul truck drivers in safe operating procedures, federal officials said. ACI also developed new policies requiring pre-shift vehicle examinations that include brake inspections. Neither company could be reached for comment Wednesday.

MSHA also cited ACI and the Buckhorn Mine’s operator for not immediately reporting the accident.

Buckhorn Mine is operated by a subsidiary of Kinross Gold Corp.

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