Joseph James Ellis helped to rescue Walter J. Church from a mine cave in, McComas, West Virginia, July 28, 1934. As Church, 31, was standing between the side wall of a room in a coal mine and a mine car that was three feet from the wall, a block of slate eight feet long, six feet wide, and eight inches thick dropped from a long crack in the roof, covering the car and extending to within four inches of the wall. Church was knocked to his knees, and one arm was pinned against the top of the side of the car. Ellis, 45, miner, who was between the end of the car and the face of the coal, was struck a glancing blow by the slate and then got out of the room. He heard slate dribbling from the roof and knew that dribbling slate often preceded a fall. Calling that there had been a fall and getting an axe, Ellis crawled on his hands and knees four or five feet under the slate, which was but three feet above the floor, and chopped the side of the car four or five inches from Church’s arm. Amado Bucchi, who responded to Ellis’s call, then squeezed past Ellis as the latter backed away, and he chopped for five minutes. When he left to get a bar, Ellis resumed chopping. After Ellis had cut through the side of the car, Bucchi returned with the bar, and Ellis with Bucchi’s aid tried to pry the side of the car from the slate. Another block of slate similar in size to the first then dropped on the first block, crushing the sides of the car so that the slate was but two feet above the floor. A little later Ellis and Bucchi with the bar moved the side of the car, freeing Church’s arm. The three then backed from beneath the slate. Church’s arm was later amputated at the elbow. He recovered otherwise.
34170 – 282734170-2827