Syracuse, NY Split Rock Explosion, Jul 1918

Split Rock Quarries NY.jpg

WILLIAM F. LANGLEY called in early in the morning to notify the coroner's office that he was alive and safe.
"I have no way of letting my people know and they might come to the morgue," he told hem. Later members of LANGLEY'S family actually appeared and were sent away rejoicing.
At noon, when word had been sent out that identification of the remaining bodies would be an almost hopeless task, the crowd thinned out, although there were still some curiosity seekers gathered around the building. Before they were permitted in they were asked to give proof that a relative was involved.
The service at the morgue was excellent. Men who had been on duty from noon yesterday until noon today showed no signs of weakening under the strain. The situation was handled well.

The Syracuse Herald New York 1918-07-03

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DEATHS IN SPLIT ROCK EXPLOSION TOTAL 70; SIX OTHERS MAY DIE

Search Now Being Made of Woods and Fields Some Distance From Scene - District Attorney and Coroner Begin Investigation - Inquiry to Be Most Thorough.

With fifty bodies at the morgue and forty-one workmen missing it is feared that the death list from the Split Rock disaster will reach seventy. Only twenty-nine of the fifty bodies have been identified, leaving twenty-one unidentified.
Search is now being made of woods and fields a considerable distance from the explosion. The finding of the coat of EUGENE L. RICE of Split Rock half a mile from the plant started a search in a wider radius. Thus far the search has been confined to the ruins.
District Attorney Walrath and Coroner Crane began an inquest at 2 P. M.
During the morning they held a conference and later went to Split Rock.

URGED TO GET CHARTS OF TEETH
Relatives of missing men were urged by the morgue attendants to have their dentists make charts of the teeth of the ones missing. With the aid of these charts many of those at the morgue can be identified. While many thronged to the morgue again during the morning, only those with relatives missing were admitted.
Mr. Walrath and Dr. Crane's visit to Split Rock was to advise just what witnesses are wanted for the first day.

Cause of Fire
The investigation will be first to find the cause of the fire preceding the explosion. Second, to find the direct cause of the explosion. Third, to find why the water supply failed.
Only chemists and those acquainted with the manufacture of T.N.T., etc., were summoned for the first day. It was expected that the expert testimony of chemists would take all the afternoon.
Saturday witnesses will be men who were on the ground and escaped injury or were slightly hurt. Then those less seriously injured and now in the hospitals will tell their stories.
Assistant District Attorney Barrett, with a court stenographer, has secured statements from many of these and it is understood that he has obtained considerable important information.
According to District Attorney Walrath it is desired to know just how low the water supply was and why. The small hose, according to statements made, would throw no water on the fire and only small streams came from the large hose..
The information obtained from injured workmen was gone over during the morning in preparation for the inquest which started in the afternoon. This inquest probably will take several days. No phase will be neglected.

May Confirm Suspicions.
If there is any evidence that the water supply had been tampered with, this will give ground for suspicions that the fire was caused by a German sympathizer or spy. Thus far there is no confirmation for any thought that the fire was started with the purpose to destroy the plant.
Both District Attorney Walrath and Coroner Crane are determined that the disaster shall be probed to the bottom.
It is now believed that several bodies or parts of bodies will be found a half a mile or a mile from the scene of the explosion. The Semet-Solvay company has worked untiringly to find bodies in the ruins, but no search has been made further away.
It is thought that some of the men have been blown half a mile away and that parts of their bodies may be found.
At the morgue now is a trayful of feet, fingers and hands awaiting identification. These may be the only parts left of men who were blown to pieces. It is possible that some can be recognized by relatives but it is hardly probable.

Three More Identified.
Three more bodies have been identified. These were:
ISAAC H. BLESSING of No. 305 Glenwood avenue.
MILFORD O. MOORE, No. 149 Gifford street.
JOSEPH H. WHITE, Elmira.

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