On Saturday, December 29, 2018, at about 7:52 p.m., Lewis County Sheriff's Office and fire personnel were dispatched for an industrial accident at the Centralia Mine Property, located at 1044 Big Hanaford Road, Centralia.
Deputies arrived and learned a contractor employee was working on a 72-foot dredge in a pond. Contractors were working on dredging the pond to reclaim coal out of the mud from prior operations.
A supervisor last heard radio contact from an employee working on the dredge at about 7:30 p.m. At about 7:45 p.m., other contract employees noticed they were not receiving material from the dredge and then found out the power to the dredge was shut off. A high voltage power line runs to the dredge, which powers the operation for dredging. The dredge is held in place by a cable on both ends that run to shore.
When employees checked on the dredge, they discovered the barge was underwater. The depth was about 20 feet. The area was searched at the time and they were not able to locate the dredge employee.
On Sunday, December 30, the Thurston County Dive Team arrived at about 9:00 a.m. They dived down to the barge and found the employee deceased inside the cabin.
Mine Safety and Health Administration investigators were onsite looking into the incident. The barge/dredge weighs about 150,000 pounds and they will need a salvage crew to retrieve it for more answers as to why this occurred.
The identity of the employee will come from the Lewis County Coroner's Office.