Chicago, IL Fell Into a Pit of Slack Lime, Aug 1890

Died In Great Agony.

Awful Death of a Laborer at Chicago.

He Falls Into Slacking Lime,

Which Does Its Horrid Work with Frightful Speed-His Clothes and Shoes Eaten Off by the Time He Has Crawled Out of the Box and His Flesh Full of Holes-Death a Relief.

Chicago, Aug. 6.-Patrick Kane, a hod carrier, fell into a pit of slack lime he was preparing at the yard of Robert Borland, plasterer, 361 West Erie Street, and died from the effects at his home, 61 Hastings Street yesterday morning. Kane was a stalwart Irishman, 34 years old, and possessed a record of unbroken good health, but on the day the accident occurred he complained of a sick headache. At the close of the day’s work his employer asked him to prepare some lime for the next day’s work. Kane at first declined on the plea that he was ill, but was finally persuaded to resume work. None of the laborers was about the yard when Kane began working the lime and his employer went back to the office to calculate estimates on some jobs in hand.

Fell Into the Burning Lime.

About 7 o’clock Kane, who felt weary and tired, leaned heavily on the mixer with which he was stirring the lime. The plank on which he stood had been thrown carelessly across a corner of the box. His weight turned it over, and before he could regain his balance or utter a cry for help he fell full length into the boiling, bubbling lime. He sank down, no part of his body escaping contact with the burning liquid except his left arm and the upper part of his face.

Just Able to Get Out.

Kane was a strong man, and though half blinded by the specks of lime that splashed up from the box, and suffering horribly from the mouthful of fiery liquid he had swallowed in his fatal plunge, he crawled out, staggered a few paces, and then fell prostrate on a sand heap, where he was found a few minutes later by his employer. From his shoulders downward the lime had eaten into his clothes and was slowly making its way through the flesh of the unconscious man.

Terrible Effects of the Bath.

The soles of his boots had dropped off, and his trousers from the knee down hung in shreds from his slowly consuming limbs. The skin on the upper part of his right arm, which was bared to the shoulder, had been burned away and the muscles and tendons had succumbed to the destroyer. The nails on his fingers had dropped off almost immediately after coming in contact with the lime, and the hand was tightly clinched as if to conquer the maddening pain. The liquid crept slowly but relentlessly through his shirt, eating its destructive way and frightfully scorching his chest and back.

A Mass of Burning Flesh.

The man was a mass of burning flesh and lime, and when Borland, his employer, found him on the sand heap the fatal lime had effectually done its deadly work. Borland rushed for the hose pipe and attempted to check the progress of destruction by deluging Kane with cold water. Then, despairing of the man’s life, he carried him to his buggy with the lime-eaten clothes still clinging to his burned body and drove the injured man home. For a week Kane hovered between life and death.

Suffered a Hundred Deaths.

None of the sufferers seen by Dante during his journey through the inferno could ever have endured the awful agony experienced by the dying hod-carrier, as the lime fairly scorched its way through his lungs. The scars on his body and limbs were hideous enough, but all chance of recovery was destroyed by the awful fire racing within. Kane bore his sufferings with the fortitude of a stoic.

Bore It Like a Hero.

No word of complaint ever crossed his lips, and he showed no sign of the great agony he felt except to lay his uninjured hand on his bosom and murmur, “My heart is burning away!” The fiery fluid released him yesterday after a week’s suffering, and Kane passed away unconscious of the approach of death.

Morning Star, Rockford, IL 7 Aug 1890