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Sad end to a long search

A worker just shy of his 19th birthday was found dead a day after an 80-foot silo full of mineral filler partially collapsed at a Loudoun County quarry. An official with the Mine Safety and Health Administration identified the worker as 18-year-old Daniel Potter.

A few of his coworkers, visibly and understandably upset, described him as a “wonderful, wonderful young man.”

The sand plant silo full of mineral filler partially collapsed Monday morning at Luck Stone Leesburg Quarry in Ashburn.

His family, who had not left the scene since Monday, and rescue workers had hoped that the young man would be found alive in a void inside the silo, but at approximately 7:25 a.m. Tuesday, a

Loudoun County Fire Department official announced that the young man was found deceased.

“Crews worked all night to get to him, unfortunately there was no sign of life,” Assistant Chief Keith Johnson with Loudoun County Fire and Rescue.

Loudoun County Fire and Rescue Services officials say that the man was found “under large volumes of mineral filler and metal equipment” inside the silo at 6:30 a.m.

“The structure inside that silo has become flattened out and all that supporting structure was found on top of him,” stated Johnson.

Luck Stone then released a statement from its president and CEO, Charlie Luck:

“Despite tremendous recovery efforts, it is with great sadness that Luck Stone announces our associate involved in the silo incident did not survive the accident. Out of respect for the associate and the family, Luck Stone is keeping the identity and name of the associate private. “We are a family here at Luck Companies and today we lost a family member. Our hearts go out to the associate’s family and they will remain in our thoughts and prayers. We will be remembering, honoring and celebrating the associate for the contributions and positive impact he made on our company.”

The rescue efforts were hampered by several factors. Debris had to be removed from outside of the silo, then structural engineers deemed that the structure was too unstable for firefighters to go near for fear of collapse so heavy cranes and support equipment had to be brought in on Monday. The silo was not “adequately stabilized” until 7:50 p.m., according to fire officials. The search then resumed. Tuesday morning, crews had to wait for a storm to pass before searching again.

Crews found the young man after approximately 11 hours of searching and are working to free him from the debris.

Investigators with the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Department and the Mine Safety and Health Administration are working to determine the cause of the collapse, which is being called a ‘catastrophic failure.” What happened, still isn’t clear.

According to the Mine Safety Health Administration, inspections are required twice a year. The last one at the site occurred in March. Two citations were issued, but it’s not clear if they were connected to the silo in question.

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