Brooklyn, NY Tunnel Explosion, Nov 1903


Another Seriously Injured in Accident at Battery Excavation---Accused Foreman Arrested.

In the rapid transit tunnel to Brooklyn, at a point sixty feet below the level of the ground, and about three hundred feet from the mouth of the tunnel at the Battery, a premature blast caused an accident shortly before 11 o'clock yesterday morning, by which PATRICK McBRIDE, of 504 West One Hundred and Sixty-sixth Street, who was in charge of the blasting, was killed, and James Cook, a negro, of 513 West Forty-third Street, a "drill runner," was injured internally and had his right eye destroyed. Lyle T. Martin, the rock foreman, was arrested and held in $1,000 bail at the Tombs Court pending the Coroner's inquiry into the case.

According to Walston H. Brown of the firm of Brown Brother's, who are financial sponsors for the New York Tunnel Company at the scene, Martin is believed to be responsible for the accident. He is accused of having raised the lever which shot off the blast.

It was explained that it was McBride's duty to fire off the blasts. He alone had the legal permit to perform that duty. The rule of the contractors is that the blaster shall see that the wires are correctly applied to the dynamite, that he shall after having satisfied himself that such is the case return to the igniting lever and himself fire the blast. This procedure practically obviates any possibility of accident, because the drill man, who is generally with the blaster when he makes his final investigation, always runs back to the lever with him. This lever is about 175 feet from where the rock is to be shattered, and there is a screen for the men to hide behind to prevent fragments of rock striking them.

Martin's first explanation, it appears, was that he heard some one shout "Fire" or "Ready," but why he raised the lever at all, when he had no right to touch it, and especially before the other two men had not reached a safe distance from the charge, has yet to be ascertained.

Although many men were at work in the tunnel, only five of them were near enough to the blast to be actually in danger. McBride was killed instantly and badly mangled. Cook was taken to the Hudson Street Hospital, where it was said that his condition was serious.

The New York Times, New York, NY 10 Nov 1903