William M. Wyatt attempted to save Paul W. Gragg from suffocation, Greenwich, Kansas, May 11, 1932. Gragg, 24, entered an oil tank to save a man who was overcome by methane gas while inside the tank to make repairs. Oily salt water was flowing from a pipe into the 8.5-foot-high tank and was 18 inches deep on the bottom. Alerted by Gragg, Wyatt, 34, laborer, responded to the scene, where he looked through the tank’s 18-inch manhole and saw Gragg carrying the other man on his shoulder toward the manhole ladder. Wyatt entered the tank and started to descend the ladder, then climbed out. He reached through the manhole and grasped the other man’s clothing. When Gragg, who stood at the foot of the ladder, began to sag, Wyatt quickly shifted his grasp to Gragg’s shoulder. The other man then fell to the bottom, where he lay with his head above the water. Holding Gragg, who was unconscious, Wyatt descended the ladder and laid him on the bottom, keeping his head above the water. Wyatt then became dizzy and climbed out of the tank. He alerted other men at a distance, then re-entered the tank and again descended the ladder. He tied one end of a cable around Gragg and started to ascend the ladder but was overcome by gas and fell from it. He lay unconscious, his head and shoulders being supported above the water by a beam. One of the men who responded, a machinist, descended the ladder and tied a rope around Wyatt, enabling him to be pulled from the tank. He was revived. The machinist then climbed out. Several minutes later a hole was cut in the tank, and, after air entered, Gragg and the other man were removed, but they could not be revived. Wyatt sustained severe injuries in the cervical region in his fall and was totally disabled.
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