Rufino Rodrigues, 20, laborer, saved an indeterminate person or persons from suffocation, Lehigh, Oklahoma, February 22, 1912. Rodrigues and others discovered a fire at the foot of the shaft of a mine in which they were working, and while others made their escape, Rodrigues went to the end of the slope, over a half-mile east of the shaft, and notified the men who were working in the various entries there. The air course was down the shaft and through the slope on which he traveled, but he kept ahead of the smoke and, with the men whom he had warned, went through a door into an entry in another part of the mine. Some of the air for this section of the mine entered through a manway about a half-mile north of the shaft, but a door in the entry which connected the shaft with the manway was open, and the smoke went with air from the shaft to the slope leading to the manway. When the last men to leave the mine reached the manway, they encountered dense smoke, and Rodrigues was dazed when he got to the surface through the manway. Nine men out of about 160 men who were in the mine were suffocated. 9901-888
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Rufino “Little Joe” Rodrigues, a retired coal miner, died on Aug. 20, 1980. He lived in Broken Arrow, Okla.
(Edited from an obituary provided by a family member.)