Bodies of 15 Blast Victims Taken from Mine
Kingsport Times, Tennessee
October 28, 1941
Daniel Boone, Ky. -- (AP) -- Bodies of 15 miners killed in an explosion of gas at the Sterling Coal Company mine here were removed from the mine by rescue squads early today.
The first body was brought to the surface at 3:15 a.m. and the others soon were removed. All were taken to Nortonville, four miles northeast of here, where an inquest was slated by Coroner Carl Hoffman later today.
Meanwhile, C. A. Herbert of Vincennes, district engineer of the United States Bureau of Mines, said an investigation of the explosion yesterday, from which 38 men were rescued, would be launched probably tomorrow.
Herbert said the miners were killed by a gas explosion but the definite cause of the blast had not yet been determined.
Bodies of the victims, which were found early last night, almost 12 hours after the explosion, were brought to surface by way of an air shaft, through which 34 of the rescued miners were brought from the pit within two hours after the blast. The other four survivors were able to leave through the main entrance before it was filled by gas.
Rescue squads abandoned a plan to remove the bodies, all badly seared, through the main entrance after working for several hours in a futile attempt to clear gas from the entry.
Paul Gannon, general superintendent of the mine, said the blast occurred at 7:15 a.m. yesterday, only 15 minutes after the crew had entered the mine for the day's work. The victims were trapped in the seventh entry where the explosion occurred about 2,400 feet from the main entrance, he said.
The Sterling pit, which produces between 12 and 15 carloads of coal daily, is a slope mine, the diggings being reached by horizontal entries.
The 38 rescued miners had passed into the sixth entry, the others had gone through the seventh entry. The miners who escaped were able to reach the air shaft before the gas took effect.
Impact of the blast tore up rail tracks, ripped down wirings and killed several mules used in hauling coal cars to tipples, which hampered the rescue squads.
The dead were:
William Compton, mine foreman.
Yesterday was Whitfield's first day at the mine since he was laid off last March.