Erwin Watkins died attempting to save Latimore Bickham and Henry Pigott from suffocation, Bogalusa, Louisiana, February 6, 1964. At a paper plant laborers Bickham, 39, and Pigott, 40 entered a sewer overflow structure through a manhole in the top, descended 14 feet to the bottom on a metal ladder attached to the inside, and were overcome by an unidentified gas. Other workmen saw them lying face down in water two to nine inches deep on the concave bottom. Watkins, 60, carpenter, entered the manhole and descended the ladder. Julious T. White, Jr., followed him. As Watkins moved to Bickham and tried to turn him face upward, White stepped to Pigott and then suspected the presence of gas. White warned Watkins of this danger, drew Pigott to the foot of the ladder, and then began to feel weak. Intending to get a gas mask and return to aid the men, White climbed out, calling to Watkins to follow. After moving Bickham to the bottom of the ladder, Watkins started to ascend it but was overcome and fell face down in the water. White began to put on a mask brought by other workmen but began coughing violently. While one of the other men was putting on the mask, Maurice B. Pickard tied a rope around his waist, held his breath, and entered the structure. In moving Watkins to the ladder, Pickard inhaled twice. Although feeling dizzy, he held Watkins in one arm and climbed three feet up the ladder. The rope then came loose, and Watkins slipped from his grasp and fell back to the bottom. Weak and groggy, Pickard climbed out to get fresh air. The man who had put on the mask immediately entered the structure. Using the rope and aided by the men above pulling on it, the man removed Watkins, Pigott, and Bickham on separate trips. Pigott and Bickham were dead. Watkins was revived and removed to a hospital but succumbed later.
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