On October 8, 1930, Rush D. Hiller, an undertaker of Canton, Ohio, lost his life while wearing a ½-hour McCaa oxygen breathing apparatus on the property of the Dalton Coal Company, Dalton, Ohio.
This accident occurred in a small slope mine in which there was no second opening. A wooden partition had been installed in the 305-foot slope to provide an intake and return airway for the mine. A fire had destroyed the surface buildings and fan near the mouth of the slope and had also destroyed the wooden brattice for about 40 feet into the slope.
Three men, who were in the mine at the time of the fire, were killed by carbon monoxide from the fire.
In an effort to reach the three men who were trapped in the mine, Hiller, wearing a ½-hour McCaa apparatus, and one of the mine owners and a fireman from Massillon, Ohio, wearing gas masks, entered the slope without a lifeline or a reserve crew at the fresh-air base. No flame safety lamp to indicate oxygen deficiency, and no canary or other means of detecting carbon monoxide were carried by the rescue party.
When they had gone about 150 feet down the slope, Hiller removed his mouth-piece and remarked that the air was good. He had no more than finished the remark than he collapsed.
The other two men attempted to carry him to the surface but became exhausted before they had gone very far; consequently, they left Hiller and proceeded to the surface to get help.
Another man put on a gas mask, went down the slope, and tied a rope around Hiller. After Hiller was dragged out of the slope by men on the surface an attempt was made to resuscitate him by means of artificial respiration and a pulmotor, but doctors on the scene pronounced him dead.
The apparatus worn by Hiller was later inspected by a representative of the Bureau of Mines and found to be in good working condition except for a hole in the inhalation tube, which appeared to have been caused by friction when Hiller and the apparatus were dragged up the slope.
Hiller had purchased the oxygen breathing apparatus for his own use. He had no previous training in the use of such apparatus and probably had no knowledge of the dangers of wearing an apparatus in fire gases containing carbon monoxide.