Four miners were rescued by the first group of rescuers that entered the shaft after an undisclosed period. They were working at the foot of the shaft and were dragged to safety before the gases ended their lives. All were said to be suffering broken bones and internal injuries. Several minutes later four other men were found and brought out. They were still warm and first aid was given. After two hours' work and all means known to medical science had been exhausted, they were pronounced dead.
Forty-One Dead Removed from "Sample Run" Mine
The Indiana Evening Gazette, Pennsylvania
August 27, 1926
With the recovery of nine additional bodies this afternoon the know death toll of the disaster explosion at Sample Run reached forty-one.
Leaders of the mine rescue crews believe four more bodies are pinioned under fallen rock and timber in the section most seriously affected by the blast. They hoped to reach those bodies before night.
As the work of rescue crews became more complete the belief prevailed among both mine officials and rescue experts that the final death tolls will stand at forty-five.
Trapped in the Sample Run mine near Clymer two and one half miles from the pit mouth from 41 to 48 miners were killed by a terrific explosion which occurred yesterday afternoon at 1 o'clock. Thirty-two bodies have been taken from the mine by noon today. The estimate of bodies remaining in the mine runs from 10 to 16 Of a total number of 56 men, including day men and miners, at the time of the blast, 9 men are known to have escaped practically uninjured. Four men were brought out alive and after being given first aid were rushed to the Dixonville Hospital where they are reported recovering.
The explosion occurred in the "first north" off the main heading, the "first north" being located under the Salsgiver farm between the Ray school house and Rayne church. The explosion which came in two blasts was terrific, blowing the large doors at the manway and fanway, located a mile and a half from the seat of the explosion, a mechanical recorder in the fan house registered the time of the explosion at exactly 1 o'clock. The second explosion came between 5 and 6 minutes afterwards. The concussion, opening the doors, blew fire and soot a hundred feet or more into the air, which was noticed by Mrs. Mart Whistle, who it is understood notified the company of the explosion.
The mine has been working only part time, and normally employs four to five hundred men.
On examination of the bodies recovered most of them died from being blown by the terrific force of the blast, which was followed by the after damp.
A few minutes after 2 o'clock yesterday afternoon, four men were brought to the surface, A. L. Beechy, a fire boss and brother of James Beechy of Indiana, Roscoe Rappish, Mike Puro and Robert Ricard. These men were given artificial respiration and after half an hour recovered sufficiently to be removed to the Dixonville hospital. They are reported as doing fine.
Several minutes later four other men were found and brought out. They were still warm and first aid was given. After two hours' work and all means known to medical science had been exhausted, they were pronounced dead.
By two o'clock the relatives and friends had gathered near the pit mouth, causing heart-rending scenes as the injured and dead were being removed. Some looking for fathers; others for brothers and husbands; hoping against hope that each trip made out by the rescue crews would bring their loved ones back alive.
As 14 hours passed, rescue teams from all parts of Indiana and nearby counties appeared on the scene with their rescue apparatus, taking their turns descending the mine and clearing away the debris, from the main headings leading to the entombed miners. As the afternoon passed without more bodies being located, hope was abandoned for all that were left in the mine. In the early part of the night the rescue crews were able to reach the bodies and they were brought to the surface as fast as found.
No undertaking establishment in Clymer or Indiana was large enough to accommodate the large number of dead so the coal company converted its machine shop, about two and a half miles from the mine, into an emergency morgue.
The bodies were hauled to the surface in electric cars and were wrapped in burlap before they were transferred to ambulances. A long line of ambulances, sent here from a dozen nearby towns, waited throughout the night and today at the mouth of the mine to carry the victims to the Clymer morgue.
At the morgue, a score of nurses and physicians from Indiana and Johnstown prepared the bodies for burial. There were so many victims that the medical staff was forced to obtain a truckload of new doors and carpenter's horses on which to lay the dead, pending funeral arrangements and identification.
The poisonous gases and "black damp" were so dense that each shift could work only a short time before returning to the surface for air.
Several times rescue workers, intent upon remaining in the mine until they had gained appreciable ground in their slow march toward the tomb of their fellow workers, collapsed. Four rescue workers were so completely fatigued that after reviving them at the mine mouth, it was necessary to rush them to hospitals for further treatment.
Hundreds of automobiles were parked as near the mine as possible and thousands of people crowded the hills to watch the progress being made as the removal of bodies continued.
Richard Minto, in charge of the pumps and fan, located on the Whistle property, over a mile from the pit mouth and a mile and a half from the center of the explosion, had just finished inspecting the pumps, located in the mine and was climbing the main slope to the fan house when the first explosion occurred. The explosion was so strong that it lifted Minto completely off his feet and threw him against the cement at the side of the shaft. Fortunately, instinct caused him to throw his arms forward, breaking the force of his contact with the wall. Minto was not injured and he proceeded to the fan house, where he was on duty at 8 o'clock last night, pushing all the fresh air into the mine it was possible for the fan to produce. Minto had a son in the mine, who escaped alive.
The following is a list of the men known to have been in the mine at the time the explosion took place: