The 600 foot level was shut down and had not been ventilated for approximately 2 months prior to the accident; its only connection to the 500 foot level was by the 541 winze. The winze was divided into two compartments - one for hoisting by bucket and the other for a manway - and was equipped with staggered ladders and platforms.
No one was permitted to descend the winze because of dangerous atmospheric conditions on the 600 foot level. Regardless of the danger, two men persuaded a third to lower them in the bucket to the 600 foot level and evidently fell from the bucket before it reached the bottom.
The third man evidently realized the seriousness of the situation but gave little or no thought to the atmospheric conditions. He proceeded down the manway until he was overcome and fell to the bottom. A fourth man, in a solitary attempt to rescue the third, was overcome and also fell to within 5 feet of the bottom. All men were wearing electric cap lamps, which gave no warning of oxygen deficiency.
When the shift boss and four others arrived at the 514 winze, they attempted to recover the bodies. Two men were lowered slowly in the bucket, having been instructed to light matches to test the atmosphere for oxygen deficiency. Approximately 30 feet below the collar of the winze both men were overcome.
When attempts were made to raise the bucket, it was found that the leg of one of men was wedged in the timbers of the winze, and all efforts to save these men failed. By the use of a pipe, the man's leg was finally freed, and the bodies were brought to the 500 foot level. After oxygen breathing apparatus was obtained and ventilation was restored at the foot of the winze, the other four bodies were recovered.
||Historical Summary of Mine Disasters in the United States - Volume I