Osage, WV Explosion Tears Through Coal Mine, May 1942
FEAR 53 MEN KILLED IN COAL MINE BLAST.
Osage, W. Va., May 12. -- (AP) -- A disastrous explosion tore through the heart of a northern West Virginia coal mine Tuesday with an apparent loss of at least 53 lives.
Rescue crews at midnight had recovered three bodies, discovered 11 more and announced there was scant hope that 39 trapped men could still be living.
Seventy others in the big operation, working outside the explosion area, escaped from the No. 3 mine of the Christopher Coal company located four miles from the university city of Morgantown.
An official announcement at midnight said the estimate of 53 lost "muct of necessity be an approximation." There was no indication other than that, however, that a greater number was trapped.
The time of the explosion, three miles underground, was fixed at 2:30 p. m. but company officials said the cause had not been determinied. The announcement said the operation had been rockdusted as a precaution against explosion two days ago, and was inspected Monday.
FRANK A. CHRISTOPHER, company president, issued a statement that he still hoped some might be found alive but members of five crews boring into the wrecked area said it did not seem as if any of those remaining escaped.
Three bodies, near the perimeter of the blast area, were recovered soon after the explosion. Late Tuesday night crews announced they had located 11 other bodies, which would be removed soon.
At least one man was given oxygen treatment to offset, the effects of gas he inhaled.
The bodies removed were identified as:
NICK NIMECHECK, 23, address unknown.
FRED MONGO, about, 35, of Osage.
JACK JONES, 28, of Granville.
The Billings Gazette Montana 1942-05-13
WORKERS HUNT 11 BODIES STILL IN TORN MINE.
45 REMOVED, IDENTIFIED; COMPANY THINKS OTHERS BURIED UNDER FALLS IN BLAST CENTER.
CAUSE UNKNOWN, RHINEHART SAYS.
PROBE WILL BE LAUNCHED AFTER ALL VICTIMS ARE TAKEN FROM SHAFT.
Osage, May 13 -- (AP) -- Four more bodies were carried out of the Christopher Coal company's No. 3 mine late tonight by rescue workers, bringing to 45 the total removed from the operation rocked by an explosion yesterday afternoon.
Eleven other victims were still buried under the heavy falls in the center of the blast area, and company officials expressed the belief it would take hours to extricate them from the debris.
Mine Head Joins Squads.
FRANK CHRISTOPHER, president of the company, joined the rescue crews in their toll earlier in the day and was still in the pit when the four bodies were brought to the surface.
Three of the bodies recovered tonight were identified as those of J. W. MITCHELL, 52, cutter, of Morgantown; ALLEN BAUGHMAN, 32, machine operator, Fairview, and JAMES GATIAN, 33, trackman, of Riverside. The identity of the fourth man was not immediately determined.
The rescue crews hauled three bodies to the surface yesterday and removed 42 others today to the accompaniment of sobs from grief-stricken widows and children who stood among the hundreds of spectators around the mine mouth.
Autos Choke Road.
The road leading from Morgantown, four miles south, was choked with automobiles again today as throngs of relatives and the merely curious visited the operation.
Officials expressed themselves as certain there were 11 more bodies in the mine after making an exhaustive check, but all apparently were in the hard-hit third section affected by the blast.
Chief N. P. RHINEHART of the state mines department, confessing himself still at a loss about the cause of the explosion, explained that an investigation would not be started until after all bodies are found.
Hasn't "Least Idea"
Speaking of the workings as a whole, RHINEHART said:
"The mine is not so badly torn, with not a whole lot of falls. I haven't yet drawn any conclusions as to the cause of the explosion ..... I haven't the least idea."
The five rescue crews, working in four-hour shifts, still were forced to wear oxygen helmets because of fumes remaining in the affected area of the mine, three miles underground. Four were overcome as a result of overexertion but their condition was not considered serious.
Ambulances carried the victims to Morgantown to await funeral arrangements.
Brass checks, lamp and family records were searched during the day as officials sought to determine for certain those who lost their lives.
Assistant Foreman Killed.
During the check, it was discovered that TOM FRIESEN, a loader who had been reported dead, was alive. EDDIE JEFFERSON, a loader whose name was not on the original list of those trapped, was found dead.
Among those killed in the blast was Assistant Day Foreman TONY BELEC and the three shift leaders in the mechanized operation, each working in a different section.
One of the victims, THOMAS CORDWELL, 50, of Osage, a mechinist, left a widow and 13 children.
Unofficial List of Dead.
The unofficial list of 56 men dead and missing and their survivors:
TONY BELEC, 28, assistant day mine foreman, Riverside, widow and one child.
JOHN McGEE, SR., 41, shift leader, Osage, widow and six children.
HAROLD LITTLE, 32, shift leader, Morgantown R. D. 3, widow and two children.
BASIL REED LAFFERTY, 40, shift leader, Morgantown, widow and one child.
THOMAS CORDWELL, 50, machinist, Osage, wife and 13 children.
JOHN B. COOK, 40, trapper, Osage, widow and three children.
BERMAN COOKER, 42, motorman, Watson, widow and two children.
GEORGE FAGULLA, 29, machine operator, Riverside, widow.
FLOYD METHENY, 30, machine operator, Morgantown R. D. 3, widow and four children.
HAROLD MURPHY, 18, trackman, Cassville, single.
HARLAN C. MURPHY, 35, machine operator, Jere, widow and two children.
DARRELL ADAMS, 34, machine operator, Mt. Morris, Pa., widow and two children.
HOYE THOMPSON, 46, trackman, Morgantown R. D. 1, widow.
ROY BATTON, 33, morotman, Osage, widow.
SAM MAY, 46, trackman, Star City, widow and five children.
JOHN PAUL GASPAR, 32, timberman, Morgantown, wife and two children.
WILLIAM SHINKO, 50, timberman, Chaplin, single.
ROBERT JOSEPH COVERT, 33, wireman, Morgantown, widow.
EDWARD DELANEY, 33, motorman, Core, widow and four children.
RUSSELL WADE TURNER, 26, wireman, Morgantown, widow and one child.
EVERETT MARSHALL, 26, trackman, Osage, widow and two children.
EDWARD LEO McCARDLE, 27, brakeman, Morgantown, widow and one child.
DOUGLAS DONALDSON, 26, timberman, Maidsville, divorced, one child.
EARL HENDERSON, 29, machine operator, Laurel Point, widow and three children.
THOMAS O. BRINGEGAR, SR., 55, trackman, Osage, widow and seven children.
ALFONZO CROOK, 25, Negro, brakeman, Cassville, widow.
JOHN POWLEY, 29, timberman, Osage, widow.
FREDERICK LEE MONGOLD, 36, motorman, Osage, widow and two children.
NICK NIMCHECK, 22, pumper, Morgantown, widow.
ARTHUR CUNNINGHAM, 34, machine operator, Cassville, widow and two children.
HOMER DEE CUNNINGHAM, 30, mechanic, Morgantown, brother of ARTHUR, widow and one child.
ALLEN (JACK) JONES, JR., Negro, brakeman, Granville, widow.
DELFORD WHETZELL, 38, brakeman, Cassville, widow.
HARRY MOODY, 26, trackman, Smithfield, Pa., widow and two children.
EDWARD JEFFERSON, 38, Negro, brakeman, Osage, widow and six children.
HOMER MAYFIELD, 58, timberman, Cassville, widow and four children.
BRUCE STONE, 55, brakeman, Pentress, widow and three children.
JUNIOR McGEE, 23, timberman, Maidsville, son of Shift Leader McGEE, widow and one child.
FRANK POWLEY, 48, shot fireman, Osage, widow, seven children.
DAN MORRIS, 31, machine operator, Riverside, widow, one child.
The 11 believed still in the mine were identified as:
STEWART MILLS, 41, trackman, Morgantown, widow, three children.
A. P. MORRIS, 35, trackman, Osage, widow and 11 children.
WILLIAM NEWHOUSE, 48, trackman, Osage, two children.
ATTILIO DORINZI, 53, trackman, Jerome Park, widow and seven children.
ALBERT FRAZIER, 24, machine operator, Morgantown, widow.
JAMES FOLEY, 58, trackman, Deer Park, Md., widow and seven children.
JOHN FRIELD, 33, snapper, Pursglove, widow and two children.
DENNIS WOLFE, 41, trackman, Osage, widow.
WILLIAM J. CANNON, JR., 21, trackman, Albright, widow.
KERMIT MAYFIELD, 18, timberman, Cassville, single.
AUSTIN JAMES, 43, Fairmont R. D. 7, widow and three children.
EDSON McCLAIN, 31, Arthurdale, widow and two children.
Charleston Gazette West Virginia 1942-05-14