Friday, November 27, 2009
Daring Rescue at The Lykens Colliery
A Slope Mine
THRILLING RESCUE OF MAN PRECEDES DEATH OF OTHER….LYKENS COLLIERY AUGUST 23, 1912
MINERS ROBERT MATTER AND OSCAR LONG MAKE DARING FOOTBALL TACKLES ON FALLING COMPANION IN THE LYKENS COLLIERY SLOPE.
Strapped to a plank and lowered down almost impassable pitches of the steep slope at the Lykens Colliery, at Lykens, after he had been saved by a human chain, then dragged and pushed through a long steam hole until finally, after four hours work, he was brought to the surface though another slope, was the sensational and decidedly precarious experience of Oliver Kemble, who was perhaps fatally injured Friday afternoon, when a trip of descending cars jumped the track in the slope and a piece of falling timber struck him on the back.
Scarcely had Kemble been taken from the closed mine when David Stence, shift leader, plunged down the same ill fated slope to this death, while surveying the wreck to make plans for cleaning it away. He fell a distance of 75 feet having the life crushed out near the spot where Kemble had been struck by the timber.
It was shortly after noon, when two cars were being lowered down the steep slope and Kemble who is 19 years of age, was standing waiting for the trip, he was employed at un- hitching. The cars left the rails and plunged down the steep incline tearing away timbers until finally blocked up the slope and checked their flight.
Kemble, with Robert Matter and Oscar Long, were working further down the slope when the timber struck the first named and with a cry he commenced to roll down the steep incline to what appeared certain death. Matter made a football tackle of the unconscious form as it went flying past him and, although he was unable to stop the descent , he checked it sufficiently to permit Long to turn make a similar tackle of Matter and the two men clung with a death like grips to save their unconscious companion even at the risk of their own lives.
Just when the strain was becoming to great aid came to them.
The First Aid Corps was rushed to the scene, but it became a problem, how to take the injured man to the surface. The slope was blocked and it seemed as though impossible to lower him down the slope and even there appeared now way out. A plank was secured and the unconscious form strapped securely to it. The Corps then slowly and laboriously and with great risk of their own lives, carried and lowered Kemble down the slope, which at some places pitched 65 degrees.
When this part of the dangerous task was accomplished, they were in a quandary as there was no avenue of exit except through the steam hole, barely large enough to permit a man’s body to pass through. There was not alternative and the plank, with its precious burden bound close to it by stout straps, was pushed and dragged through the small hole until finally the plucky rescuers reached the bottom of the other slope where the injured man and his exhausted rescuers were hoisted to the surface.
Before starting their task of rescue, they thoroughly bandaged and attended to the injured young man, so that the unusual and thrilling experience did not have any bad results. It required four hours of this kind of work to get him from the mine.
Scarcely had the unconscious form been brought from the interior of when David Stence plunged to his death down the same ill-fated place where Kemble had been injured.
Stence was 45 years of age and has a wife and two children. He was shift leader and it was his duty to supervise the work of clearing out the blocked slope. He had hardly started to survey the work when he lost his foothold and fell.
Kemble was brought to the Pottsville Hospital Saturday morning by Amos Minnich, George C. Lauer, William Kemble and Glen Kemble. The first three are members of the Fist Aid Corps and the last two are brothers of the unfortunate young man.
A deep gash was cut on the injured man’s side and he was internally injured. His condition is considered critical.