Roswell, NM (near) Crane Falls In Missile Pit, Feb 1961


Roswell, N.M. (AP) - A huge construction crane toppled 172 feet to flaming destruction in the bottom of a ballistic missile pit in eastern New Mexico Thursday killing six workers and injuring 19.
Six of the injured were treated and released from a hospital.
Today the cause of the accident had not been determined and there were conflicting reports as to what exactly happened.
Dazed survivors could provide little help in clearing the picture.
They were working on steel framework along the sides of the deep pit, to be used as a launching site for the nation's Atlas intercontinental ballistic missile, when the crane toppled in on them.
"They yelled down and told us it was coming," said one of the survivors, L. D. CRUMRINE, 48, of Amarillo, Tex. "I looked up, saw it moving backwards toward the hole. I got behind a column but the fire got me."
Gasoline tanks on the crane ruptured after the machine struck the steel work. Sparks or hot welding equipment ignited the gasoline and filled the 52-foot wide pit with flames.
CRUMRINE said HOWARD L. FRAMPTON, was working on the same level with him.
"I guess he got killed, because he fell," CRUMRINE said from his hospital bed.
FRAMPTON, 35, (1409 S. 9th) Pekin, Ill., was one of the six dead.
One worker, H. R. DAVIS, told Deputy Sheriff Bill Smith he saw the back wheels of the crane going over the edge and jumped in the cab to try and brake it. He leaped to safety before the crane toppled into the hole.
A board of investigation, headed by Maj. Stanford I. Polonsky, executive officer of the Roswell District of the Corps of Engineers, was scheduled to meet today.
The complete list of dead included FRAMPTON; G. W. McDONOUGH, of Fort Worth, Tex.; FRANK CORTEZ, Lake Charles, La.; CHARLIE CHAMBERS, of Roswell; JAMES LEROY WILSON and GEORGE W. GALLIGAN. CHAMBERS was a corps of engineers employee and the others were employees of Macco Corp. the job contractor.
Admitted to the hospital were:
C. B. GUFFIE, 31, of (1022 Pryor) Charlotte, N.C.
JOSE I. JIMINEZ, 32, Roswell.
CALVIN L. CRAWFORD, 37, of (Rt. 3) Rutherford, N.C.
JACK SHIPMAN, 37, Roswell.
W. H. BRUNSON, 34, Alamogordo.
W. R. JONES, 32, Roswell.
AL JONES, 22, Roswell.
L. D. CRUMRINE, 48, Amarillo, Tex.
FRANK TURPIN, 34, Provo, Utah.

The Odessa American Texas 1961-02-17