A contractor who was working to stabilize one of the mines inside the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve near Antioch Tuesday afternoon suffered serious chest and back injuries when a loose rock struck him, a park spokeswoman said.
The East Bay Regional Park District regularly does work inside the mines to ensure that it is safe for visitors, EBRPD spokeswoman Carolyn Jones said. The mines are closed to the public except during weekend tours, which Jones said have been going on "for decades."
"(The mines) are checked every day either by our staff or contractors or engineers for loose rocks and other safety issues," Jones said. "There's a bunch of old coal mines and sand mines there dating back from the 1800s that the park district maintains as a way for the public to learn about mining history in the area and how glass is made."
EBRPD acquired the 6,000-acre park in the early 1970s and regularly hosts tours, which take participants hundreds of feet inside the mines, Jones said.
The contractor was working some 200 feet inside the Hazel-Atlas Mine, named after the Oakland-based Hazel-Atlas Glass Company, Jones said. Emergency medical crews were called around 11 a.m. on a report of a person inside the mine who was possibly injured, Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Fire Inspector Steve Aubert said.
Jones said the man's coworkers carried him on a backboard to the entrance of the mine, where an ambulance met him for transport to a waiting helicopter. The man was alert and responsive to medical crews when he was airlifted to John Muir Medical Center, Aubert said. The man complained of chest pain and shortness of breath and Aubert said medical personnel were also concerned about the potential for internal injuries.
Aubert said it's unclear whether the man was wearing a hard hat or other protective gear but said it appeared the contractors were taking all the proper precautions.
"It's extremely rare to have an injury out there," Jones said.
She said she didn't know which company was working inside the mine.
Fire Marshal Robert Marshall said the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health would be notified of the workplace accident.
"At some point, they will be involved," Marshall said.
According to the district's website, the sand mines date from the early 1900s and the coal mines date back to the 1860s. The last of the mines closed in the 1940s, Jones said.