Eldon A. Bonnicksen, 45, well driller, died helping to save John J. Reinhardt, 19, well driller’s helper, from suffocation, Estherville, Iowa, May 25, 1965. Reinhardt was assisting Bonnicksen in the cleaning of a deep well, into which they had pumped a hydrochloric acid solution through the well casing which rose two feet above the floor of a concrete pit seven feet deep. Along with John M. Greig and three other men, Reinhardt and Bonnicksen watched the resulting eruption, which sprayed sediment from the well to six feet above the pit. Bonnicksen warned everyone to remain clear of the pit for a while. Greig and the other three men went to a nearby shed. A few minutes later they heard Bonnicksen calling for assistance. Greig and the men ran to the three-foot opening in the top of the pit and saw Bonnicksen inside. He was standing on a ladder with his head just below the opening and was holding Reinhardt, who was unconscious. Bonnicksen pushed Reinhardt upward. As Greig and the others lifted Reinhardt through the opening, Bonnicksen lost consciousness and fell to the bottom of the pit. Greig took a deep breath, held it, and descended the ladder. One of the other men lowered the noose end of a lariat to Greig, who quickly slipped it over Bonnicksen’s leg and climbed out, choking from the fumes. Greig and the others pulled on the rope but could not raise Bonnicksen, a heavy man. They obtained a tractor from the shed and tied the lariat to the fork of its hydraulic lift, by which they then removed Bonnicksen from the pit. A doctor arrived and determined that Bonnicksen was dead. Reinhardt was given oxygen and removed to a hospital, where he was revived. He was confined a week, recuperated, and recovered.
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