Feds investigating death of Elberton man at Oglethorpe quarry
The death of an experienced granite quarry worker in Oglethorpe County on July 20 is under investigation by the federal Mine Safety and Health Administration, but authorities said it may be months before a final decision is reached on how the accident occurred.
Investigators will interview witnesses, examine the site and equipment “and ultimately, write up a report of their findings, which may include enforcement against the mine operator,” according to MSHA spokeswoman Amy Louviere.
Matthew Walter Kanala IV, 36, of Elberton was killed while drilling a section of rock at Blue Sky Quarry, according to the Oglethorpe County Coroner’s Office. A large section of rock, estimated at 16,000 pounds, broke and fell on Kanala, who had also apparently fallen as he attempted to escape the falling rock, according to the report.
Kanala, who had worked in mines for about two decades, was married and the father of three children.
Outside the investigation, no one is saying much about what happened.
A woman at Blue Sky Quarry said last week the company was not commenting.
Matthew Eason, a Lavonia attorney for the Kanala family, said, “We don’t have any statements at this time.”
The Elberton Granite Association, an organization of granite mine owners including Blue Sky, did not return a call for comment. Elberton is known as the “Granite Capitol of the World” and the association has members with mines stretching across Elbert County into parts of Madison and Oglethorpe counties.
Working in rock and coal mines is dangerous work, and so far in 2017, the MSHA reported 16 deaths nationwide, with 10 in coal mines and 6 in metal and other mines.
In 2016, the agency reported that 26 miners died in work-related accidents, which was down from 29 in 2015. Of these 2016 fatalities, the MSHA said 17 occurred in metal and non-metal mines, the category that includes granite mines.
“The figure represents the lowest number of mining deaths ever recorded and only the second year that mining deaths dropped below 30,” according a statement from the agency.
There are about 330,000 miners working in more than 13,000 mines in the United States, according to the MSHA.
The leading causes for these deaths was machinery accidents and powered haulage. The latter term includes everything from conveyors to shuttle cars and forklifts.
The improved statistics in mine deaths was attributed by MSHA Assistant Secretary Joseph Main to several reasons, including more inspections, training and a crack down on chronic violators of safety rules.
A photo showing portion of the Blue Sky Quarry in Oglethorpe County. (Elberton Granite Association Facebook)
Oglethorpe County, Georgia
Oglethorpe quarry worker killed when crushed by rock
The man killed while working in a granite quarry in Oglethorpe County has been identified as Matthew Walter Kantala IV, 36, of Elberton.
Kantala was killed in a work-related accident that occurred shortly after 10 a.m. Thursday at the Blue Sky Quarry located off Veribest Road in a northeastern section of the county, according to Oglethorpe County Deputy Coroner Mark Bridges.
Kantala was drilling a section of granite when a large section of rock broke away, according to Bridges.
“He went to move out of the way, lost his balance and fell,” Bridges said.
Kantala fell about 16 feet onto some more rock, but the large rock, estimated at 16,000 pounds, fell on him, according to the coroner.
The Oglethorpe County Sheriff’s Office said the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating.
Oglethorpe County granite worker killed in quarry fall
Oglethorpe County Deputy Coroner Mark Bridges said he couldn’t yet release the man’s name. The fatality occurred shortly after 10 a.m. at the Blue Sky Quarry located off Veribest Road in a northeastern section of the county, according to Bridges.
The man was killed when he fell while drilling rock, Bridges said. The Oglethorpe County Sheriff’s Office said the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is also investigating.
Here is the gofuckme page:
Support for the Kantala Family
As many of you know Matthew Kantala of Elberton was killed tragically today at the Granite quarry where he worked. He was only 35 and leaves behind a wife and 3 children. He worked hard and provided 100% of the family income. As you can imagine the coming weeks will be so hard emotionally as well as financially for his family. Please donate if you can, anything will greatly help with his final expenses as well as support for this sweet family. Thank you.