James C. Martin died attempting to save J. Moss Crissman from suffocation, Joplin, Missouri, May 10, 1934. While ascending a ladder attached to the wall of the pumping shaft of a sewage disposal plant 21 feet deep, Crissman, 49, was overcome by gas and fell to the bottom. A pump rested on cross beams three feet above the bottom. Water and sludge were entering the shaft through pipes and was three feet deep in the bottom. Crissman’s fall broke an electric light that hung in the shaft. Martin, 51, sewerman, and another sewerman at the top of the shaft saw Crissman fall but could see not more than six feet into the shaft. Although warned against the danger of being overcome by gas, Martin descended the ladder to the pump level and was heard splashing in the water and sludge and calling to Crissman. About two minutes after reaching the pump level, Martin began to climb the ladder. Soon the sewerman at the top heard him fall and then heard moans from the shaft. He left to get help. A half an hour later a fireman, who was protected by a gas mask and a rope, descended the ladder to the water and sludge, which then was eight feet deep, and with a grab hook caught Martin’s clothing. He was drawn out but could not be revived. After water and sludge had been pumped from the shaft, Crissman, who was found beneath the pump, was brought to the top. He was dead.
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