Man dies after excavator accident at quarry: UPDATE

Update

Emergency crews are still working to recover the body of 25-year-old Ryan Messenger.

Messenger was killed when his excavator rolled down an embankment at Karuah’s Hunter Quarries on Tuesday.

Concerns that the accident site may be unstable had led crews to order two cranes to assist.

However the Newcastle Herald reported a third crane had been called in yesterday.

"The situation has not changed during the day but difficulty with the recovery in a precarious position means they have had to send for a bigger crane," Sergeant Stewart Mann of Raymond Terrace police said.

One of the owners of the quarry, Hilton Grugeon, accused government mine inspectors of not ordering the right size crane.

Defending the company’s safety record, Grugeon said the site took safety very seriously.

He said everyone involved was “devastated and distraught” about the accident.

Earlier Story 

Recovery efforts are continuing today after a 25-year-old man died when his excavator rolled down an embankment at Karuah’s Hunter Quarries on Tuesday.

Police said Ryan Messenger is believed to have died instantly after being pinned to the ground by the machine.

Messenger was creating a wind break when the accident occurred.

“It would appear he has for unknown reasons picked up a boulder and has turned it downhill and the weight of that boulder in the bucket has toppled it over,” Port Stephens duty officer Inspector Guy Flaherty told the Newcastle Herald.

Eight safety inspectors from the Department of Resources and Energy travelled to the site on Tuesday.

Flaherty said safety concerns had hampered efforts to recovery Messenger’s body.

Fears the accident site was unstable coupled with a fire safety risk due to the excavator leaking fuel led emergency crews to call in two cranes to assist.

Hunter Quarries said it was shocked by the accident.

‘‘The Hunter Quarries family is devastated by the death as there is nothing more important than the safety, care and welfare of our employees,” the company said in a statement.

‘‘Hunter Quarries would like to extend their deepest sympathies to the employee’s family, friends and co-workers.’’

Newcastle Trades Hall Council said the safety record at the site was unacceptable.

‘‘All industrial deaths are preventable,’’ Trades Hall secretary Daniel Wallace said.

In 2005 truck driver Darren Smith lost his life at the same site after his truck slid 50metres down an embankment.

Hunter Quarries was fined more than $200,000 over Smith’s death.

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