Loader operator killed when avalanche of sand floods cab

Updated Jul 6, 2015

A wheel loader operator near Boston was killed Tuesday when his machine was caught in an avalanche of sand.

According to a report from WBZ TV, 65-year-old Charles Pace was killed when the side of a large pile of sand collapsed atop his machine while on the job at P.A. Landers, a sand and gravel producer.

The local media outlets are reporting the machine as a “bulldozer,” but pictures from the scene show that Pace was operating a Cat 972M wheel loader.

Plymouth Fire Chief G. Edward Bradley told the Boston Globe Pace was using the machine to load sand onto a conveyor belt when the collapse occurred. The avalanche caved in the machine’s windshield, filling the cab with sand. Bradley told the Globe the amount of force the avalanche created was like “the weight of a motor vehicle on your chest.”

It took 12 firefighters and 30 members of the Plymouth Technical Rescue team using several pieces of heavy equipment to retrieve Pace from the machine. â€śIt got to the point where we couldn’t remove sand fast enough, and it started filling again . . . we had to bring in a vacuum,” Bradley said.

The Mine Safety and Health Administration is investigating the incident. Bradley told the Globe the site had passed an inspection a few weeks prior to the collapse.