Two workers killed in Rock Creek Mine equipment collapse

Cause of accident under investigation

Posted: Sunday, July 22, 2007

NOME - Two iron workers died after a manlift collapsed at the site of the Rock Creek Mine project near Nome.

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Tyler Kahle, 19, of Tomahawk, Wis., and Craig Bagley, 27, of Anchorage, were standing on the manlift about 50 feet above the ground Thursday, working on construction of a building when the lift tipped over.

The two were working for Alaska Mechanical, a contractor building the Rock Creek mine and milling facilities operated by Alaska Gold Co., a NovaGold Resources subsidiary.

The men survived the initial fall, said Alaska State Trooper John Stroebele. The workers were taken to the Norton Sound Regional Hospital, where they were pronounced dead.

Kahle was pronounced dead at just before 8 p.m. Thursday and Bagley died shortly after 9 p.m.

Officials did not know if the collapse occurred due to operator error or a mechanical problem, according to troopers.

The lift is a basket attached to a long arm that pivots, extends and retracts. The arm is attached to a base with four wheels. The controllers for the lift are inside the basket where the two men were working.

Alaska Mechanical declined to comment and referred questions to Alaska Gold, where a company executive, Doug Nicholson, said the cause of the accident is under investigation. Nicholson said the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration was investigating.

AMI workers did not work at the site Friday.

"Right now we focus on providing support to the AMI crews and support the families," Nicholson said. "We appreciate the efforts of the Nome emergency service team. They did what they could."

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