Martin William McKenna died attempting to rescue Winthrop C. Delamater and Philip A. Moose from suffocation, Pittsburg, California, October 23, 1934. While Delamater, 24, machine operator, stood on the bottom of a tank 12 feet in diameter and was 12 feet below a small manhole at the top, he used compressed air discharged from a hose to agitate acid-sulphur sludge, which was two feet deep and contained hydrogen sulphide gas. He was overcome and fell with his back against a pipe and his head above the sludge. Moose, 30, superintendent, who had ordered Delamater to enter the tank, also entered, was overcome, and was submerged face down in the sludge. McKenna, 26, tank operator, then entered the tank by means of a ladder. The air-hose, which was swinging wildly under pressure, was shut off. Almost immediately after entering the tank, McKenna fell unconscious in the sludge near Moose. Henry H. Fowler, wearing a gas-mask, then started down the ladder; but in squeezing through the manhole the canister became disconnected. The headpiece was removed, and he descended and stood in the sludge. He became affected but remained on his feet. Other men then were knocking a hole in the tank to drain the sludge. A man with a rope tied around his waist then descended to the sludge, looped the rope around Fowler, and aided him from the tank, as others pulled on the rope. After taking several breaths, the man descended to Delamater, aided him in like manner, and then climbed out himself. After the sludge had been drained, McKenna and Moose were taken out. McKenna was dead, and Moose died eight hours later. Fowler and Delamater recovered.
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