J. Walter Birdwell died attempting to save Zerene S. Tinnell and Viola Skutnick from drowning, Taylor Springs, Illinois, June 17, 1918. Zerene, 12, and Viola, 15, while playing in shallow water on the overflowed bank of a slough, slid into the slough where the water was eight feet deep. Birdwell, 38, guard, who was dressed, swam eight feet to the girls and grasped them. They grasped his hands, and one grasped his coat collar. He threw his head back and sank, both he and the girls releasing their holds. He rose to the surface, became unconscious, and was drowned. The girls were saved by a boy who swam to them. 18938-1449
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J. Walter Birdwell, of Taylor Springs, Ill., died on June 17, 1918. His remains arrived at Kingsport, Tenn., accompanied by S.S. White of the American Zinc Company on June 20, 1918. He was buried at the family burial grounds. The pall bearers were six stalwarts of the Baldwin Felts Detective Agency. It was on American Zinc Company’s property where the ill-fated rescue took place. Birdwell was a guard.
(Edited from an obituary provided by a family member from an unidentified newspaper.)