Kenneth Eber Lee, 27, laborer, died attempting to save Harry R. Opper, 38, assistant power engineer, from suffocation, Peoria, Illinois, October 17, 1937. Opper entered a concrete pit that extended eight feet below ground-level and was eight feet square, from the bottom of which was a deep, steel incased water-well. Almost immediately he was overcome by an unidentified gas and fell close to a fixed ladder that extended up to a two-foot-square manhole at the top of the pit. Lee and Leonard G. Buckingham, who were told gas was strong in the pit, descended the ladder to the bottom. Stepping to Opper, Lee lifted him somewhat; and Buckingham took hold of Opper’s arm. Lee then was overcome and fell; and Buckingham, feeling weak, released his hold, stepped on the ladder, and was aided from the pit by a man at the manhole. After resting briefly, Buckingham again descended; and stooping over Opper, he felt a tightening in his throat. Stepping toward the ladder, he was overcome and fell forward, his arms hanging over a rung. Shortly afterward Henry L. McKinnie arrived at the pit, no others being present at that time. Holding his breath, he descended the ladder and got Buckingham on his back. Although he then breathed and felt a pulsation in his temples, McKinnie, supporting Buckingham, climbed part way up the ladder; and two men, who had just arrived, then lifted Buckingham to the floor and aided McKinnie from the ladder. Buckingham was revived. Breathing deeply several times, McKinnie then held his breath, again descended the ladder, and lifted Opper. Suddenly feeling weak, he released Opper, climbed part way up, and then was lifted through the manhole. Lester R. Renegar, who was somewhat winded from running, reached the pit. At least four men tried to persuade him not to enter the pit, but Renegar held his breath, descended the ladder, raised Opper to his feet, and stepped to the ladder. Renegar then took a breath, in weakness dropped Opper, ascended two or three rungs, and then was pulled from the pit. Shortly afterward Earl William Schilling reached the pit. He was winded and excited. Although he was advised not to enter the pit and was told gas-masks would be brought, Schilling descended the ladder while three men held a rope that was tied loosely around his waist. Schilling took hold of Opper, took a breath, and immediately was overcome, falling on Opper. T he rope slipped to his ankles as he fell, and the men pulled him from the pit feet first. He was revived. Soon thereafter Renegar, wearing a gas-mask, descended the ladder and tied the rope around Opper, who was pulled from the pit. The rope then was lowered to Renegar, who tied it around Lee’s chest; and Lee was drawn from the pit. Renegar climbed from the pit. Lee could not be revived. Opper died 10 hours later without regaining consciousness.
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