Shelby Becknell attempted to save Frank O. Adamson from fatal acid burns, St. Bernard, Ohio, June 6, 1961. While Adamson, 61, maintenance engineer, was on a ladder repairing a leak in an overhead pipe carrying hot sulphuric acid under pressure at a chemical company plant, the pipe broke loose at a joint. Acid sprayed over everything within 20 feet, covering Adamson and Becknell, 60, operating engineer. Burned and temporarily blinded, Becknell groped his way to a shower in a nearby building and washed off the acid, which by then had eaten away all of his clothing except his shoes. Hearing Adamson groan, Becknell ran from the building after turning in a fire alarm. He moved to where Adamson lay on the ground at the foot of the ladder in a pool of acid three feet wide and two inches deep. A steady stream of acid fell on him from the pipe and was blown over a wide area by the wind. Adamson was unable to rise due to the slippery quality of the acid. Shutting his eyes, Becknell dragged Adamson eight feet toward the building. Becknell then slipped and fell on one hip in acid a quarter of an inch deep. He lost his hold on Adamson, who crawled away from him. With his eyes still closed, Becknell returned to the shower and again washed himself free of the acid. He then ran out of the building and found Adamson, who was severely burned and unable to see. Becknell partially carried Adamson to the shower and helped him wash off the acid. Firemen arrived and removed both men to a hospital, where Adamson succumbed later. Becknell was hospitalized for 10 weeks. Permanent damage to his hip resulted from his burns.
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