Indianapolis, IN Fairgrounds Coliseum Explosion, Oct 1963
Every ambulance in Indianapolis and nearby cities was called and the injured were taken to six hospitals in the area, including the Army hospital at Ft. Benjamin Harrison.
Finally the hundreds of firemen, policemen and civil defense workers turned their attention to the dead and began laying them in rows along the side of the ice opposite the gaping hole in the south side of the arena.
Auto wreckers drove directly onto the ice to help tug at the chunks of concrete, some pieces as big as pianos. Finally a huge commercial crane was brought in, and it uncovered the last of the smashed seats.
Many of the bodies were charred by bursts of flames that roared 90 feet in the air, to the ceiling of the huge amphitheater, in the blast. The fire itself was quickly extinguished. There wasn't much inflammable material in the shattered section except the seats.
The force of the explosion was straight up or the tragedy could have brought a heavier toll. Most of the debris fell down, although some small pieces of concrete were found on the opposite side of the arena.
It appeared that the blast occurred under the seats in a commissary which supplied popcorn and soft drinks to venders[sic].
WILBUR GAUTHIER, 55, of Indianapolis, who worked in the commissary, said:
"I don't have any idea what happened. I was underneath the stands. It got dark all of a sudden, and then I was lying with concrete and timbers on me. I tried to get loose. I must have passed out then, because the next thing I knew a medical officer had me."
List of Dead
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - The dead in Thursday night's ice show explosion at the Indianapolis Coliseum, as released by the county corner and unofficially compiled:
DWIGHT KEIM, 64, Lafayette, a Republican mayor of Lafayette in the '40's
RUSSELL ROBBINS, Indianapolis.
ANN MARGARET WORLAND, 15, Kokomo.
GWENDOLYN L. CAMPBELL, 62, Indianapolis.
MRS. VELMA COWGILL, 50, Anderson.
MARIETTA MASON, 62, Indianapolis.
BARBARA BURKHARDT, 8, Indianapolis.
HAZEL McCLUNG, Indianapolis.
MAJORIE HOPPES, 60, Daleville.
JOHN ALBERT MAHR, 70, Indianapolis.
DR. MARSHALL McCLUNG, 68, Indianapolis.
HERMAN HOFFER, 74, Indianapolis.
CARROLL COWGILL, 60, 533 Winding Way, Anderson.
LAURA JAUS, Indianapolis.
THELMA PRINTZ, 47, Indianapolis.
EARL H. MYER, 62, Indianapolis.
GREGORY BRENT DILL, 5½, Indianapolis.
JOHN WILLIAM RHODES, about 50.
KENNETH HORTON, 53, Anderson.
MRS. DAVID BURKHARTD, 35, Indianapolis.
VIOLET WHITE, Indianapolis.
ALFRED M. WHITE, Indianapolis.
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