Exploding motor kills man at Lone Star plant

Tuesday, June 4, 2002

A federal agency is conducting a "full and thorough investigation" of the death of Robert St. Cin, a 41-year-old maintenance mechanic at Lone Star Industries who was killed Monday morning by an exploding industrial motor.

St. Cin, of Oran, Mo., was pronounced dead at about 10:30 a.m. at the Cape Girardeau cement plant at 2524 S. Sprigg St., said Cape Girardeau County Coroner Mike Hurst.

"Apparently, he was up on the roof of one of the towers when a large industrial motor blew up," Hurst said. "He was leaning over the motor, and when it exploded a flywheel hit him in the chest."

The death -- the first at Lone Star since 1997 -- has prompted an investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Mine Safety and Health Administration, the agency that is responsible for the health and safety of miners. Lone Star employs 190 people and falls under the agency's jurisdiction because it operates a rock quarry.

Agency spokesman Rodney Brown in Arlington, Va., said investigators from the Rolla, Mo., office were going to be at Lone Star by today. A preliminary report should be made available to the public within the next day or two that would offer a brief account of what happened, he said.

Probe may take 60 days

A full investigation, which could take as long as 60 days, would include interviews with witnesses, studying the scene and examining the equipment involved, Brown said.

"It is a full and thorough investigation," Brown said.

A detailed report would then be made public, he said. If there are violations of mining regulations, then Lone Star could be issued citations and fines, he said.

MSHA keeps a record of accidents at U.S. companies that fall under its jurisdiction. Its records show that Lone Star employees have had 56 non-fatal accidents since 1995, though in the past two years, there have only been 10. Seventeen of the company's contracted workers have also had accidents over the same time period.

According to MSHA's Web site, most of the injuries in the past two years were related to muscle strain and joint problems.

The last fatality at Lone Star was a contracted worker in 1997. Carl Dean Howell Jr. of Scott City, Mo., was killed at the quarry when a 50-foot section of rock collapsed onto the tract elevator he was operating.

MSHA also performs routine inspections. Since 1995, the company has been cited for 130 safety violations and has paid penalties of $85,960. However, the company has paid no penalties since the beginning of 2001 and has been cited only four times since then.

Lone Star's management referred calls to the company's Indianapolis office, which sent spokesperson Barbara Sinclair from Indiana to Cape Girardeau to deal with the local media.

From a cell phone while en route, Sinclair said that Lone Star would be conducting its own investigation into the incident, though she refused to offer details of what the company knew.

"We don't know the facts yet, and without the facts, there's no point in putting it out there," she said. "It's going to be a long process, and we're going to do it right."

Sinclair called the incident a tragedy and offered the company's condolences to St. Cin's family -- his wife Kim, his daughter, Tory, 15, and his son, Trenton, 10.

"We feel very sorry for what's happened, and we offer our deepest sympathy about what's happened," she said. "Our employees are very saddened as well."

'Good family man'

St. Cin had been an employee at Lone Star since 1990.

His brother-in-law, Thomas L. Seyer, described "Bob" St. Cin as a man who put his wife and kids first.

"Bob definitely put his two kids No. 1 every day," said a shaken Seyer. "Every day. He was a very good family man."

Seyer said St. Cin was the type of man who would give the shirt off his back to others.

When asked if St. Cin liked his job, Seyer said his brother-in-law saw it as a necessity more than a joy.

"It's like most people in this world," Seyer said. "He had bills to pay and a family to feed, and he wanted to make sure he got that done. Bob was headstrong, but he had a heart of gold. It's been a big hit for our family, a big hit."

Amick-Burnett Funeral Chapel at Oran is in charge of funeral arrangements, which were incomplete Monday evening.


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