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Inexperienced operator died after losing ‘control’ say investigators

La Havana Pit death
La Havana Pit death

An amateur heavy vehicle driver passed away after going off the deep end.

Authorities recently examined circumstances that led a long reach excavator operator to fatally enter water at Terra Firma Materials’ La Havana Pit.

Investigators found the Caterpillar 326FL was submerged 2-metres deep at about 7:50am on 25 February 2023.

Eliborio Garcia had only been in the job for five days when the 42-year-old travelled over a 61cm berm into the sediment pond.

“At 2:01pm the Mission Fire Department located Garcia in the submerged cab of the excavator. Garcia was removed from the excavator cab at 3:17pm [and] Juan Pena Jr, Justice of the Peace, pronounced Garcia dead at 4:29pm,” the Mine Safety and Health Administration’s final report said.

“The accident occurred because the mine operator did not ensure the excavator operator maintained control of the excavator.”

The report also found the cab was 75 per cent filled with mud, the key still in the “on” position and “full throttle” engaged.

“The excavator’s seat belt [was] extended out, which may indicate that Garcia was wearing his seat belt at the time of the accident. Investigators found the seat belt to have visible mud under and over it, preventing it from retracting,” investigators said.

Click here to read the full report.

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