James H. West helped to save George C. Contreras, from suffocation, Stamford, Texas, April, 8, 1965. When Contreras, 28, farm hand, entered a cistern from which he had just removed polluted water, he was affected by a lack of oxygen and fell unconscious on the bottom, which was five feet in diameter and 23 feet below the two-foot opening at its top. A man who had been helping Contreras drove two miles and reported the accident to West, 38, oil producer, and Richard B. Trevathan. They went to the cistern and by the light of an electric bulb suspended in it saw Contreras. He was groaning. West descended to the bottom by sliding down a rope attached outside the cistern. He tied the end of the rope firmly around Contreras and began to climb out. After ascending several feet, West fell back to the bottom, where he walked around in a daze and then collapsed on top of Contreras. The other man returned, followed by a doctor he had summoned. They and Trevathan tried to pull Contreras out by means of the rope but were unable to dislodge West. A farmer arrived in a truck with another rope and a tank of oxygen. When West rolled off Contreras, the latter was drawn out of the cistern. The hose of the oxygen tank was lowered through the opening. Noting that the oxygen did not seem to be revivingWest, Trevathan offered to go to his aid. The second rope was tied around Trevathan, and the other men lowered him into the cistern. He tied the first rope around West and then, noticing numbness in his legs, called to the men to pull him up. After removing Trevathan, the men drew West from the cistern by means of the first rope. The doctor gave injections to Contreras, West, and Trevathan, who was conscious but badly dazed. Contreras and West were revived at a hospital. All three men recovered.
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