BORON, Calif.-A 34-year-old Minnesota man died July 28 following the explosion of a tire and wheel assembly he and another worker were attempting to remove from a front-end loader. Quinn Allen Richardson, of Goodland, Minn., died instantly and a co-worker, Peter Martin, also of Goodland, received lesser injuries in the accident, which occurred near the U.S. Borax plant located in Boron.
Authorities believe the two were trying to remove the wheel assembly from the vehicle with the tire still inflated.
Both federal and California Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations require service workers to completely deflate such tires by removing the valve core prior to removing the wheel from the axle.
Chief Deputy James Maluf of the Kern County Sheriff's Department said a preliminary investigation indicated the men were using a cutting torch to remove bolts from the vehicle and wheel assembly.
Both victims were employed by Dom-X Inc., a Hibbing, Minn., buyer and seller of mining equipment. The workers were disassembling the vehicle, an L800 Letourneau, in preparation for shipment.
After they removed some of the bolts, internal pressure of the inflated tire sent the rim and portions of the massive wheel assembly flying, striking both victims.
Mr. Martin was found wandering dazed and confused sometime later by an employee from U.S. Borax.
He then led the employee to Mr. Richardson, but it was too late to save his life. Mr. Richardson's body was hurled nearly 16 feet by the force of the exploding tire.
Mr. Martin was taken to a hospital in San Bernardino where he was treated and later released.
Mr. Richardson is survived by a pregnant wife and a 5-year-old daughter.