Six Victims of Mine Explosion at Keystone Die in Hospital
June 24, 1937
One of the worst disasters ever to occur in this section was a powder explosion in the Fred Rupert truck coal mine near Keystone shortly after the noon hour Monday, when six men were so badly burned that five of them have since died, and the sixth will probably succumb. The victims are Edward Rupert, 24, Theodore Rupert, 25, Dan Rupert, 19, all sons of Fred Rupert; George W. Cadd, 53; and Lester Kerr Harris, 25. The sixth man is Thomas Godfrey, 48, who was living Wednesday morning.
Shortly after the noon hour Monday, when the men were returning to their duties after eating lunch in the mine some 400 feet from the entrance, Edward Rupert leaned over an open keg of powder to secure material for a charge, when the carbide lamp fell from his cap directly into the explosive. A blinding, searing flash followed and the mine entry became an inferno as the six victims, their clothing in flames, struggled blindly toward the main opening.
Others at the mine, and those summoned by the sound of the explosion, aided the seared and suffering men as they emerged, and called for help in rushing them to the Holzer Hospital. The suffering of the burned men was agonizing, as their charred clothing fell away.
Arriving at the hospital, they were first given morphine injections to allay the pain, and placed in water baths before their injuries were dressed. Dazed and weeping relatives and anxious friends grouped about the hospital corridors and on the lawn, hoping for some favorable report, yet despairing of it.
Everything that medical skill could do was done and extra nurses were assigned the care of the stricken men, but shortly after midnight Theodore Rupert died, followed in a few minutes by his brother Edward. Harris lived until 3 o’clock Tuesday morning and Cadd until 5. Dan Rupert died at one o’clock Tuesday afternoon.
Theodore Rupert lived at Rocky Hill and is survived by his wife, formerly Zella Foster of Meigs County. Edward and Dan Rupert were unmarried and lived at home. Kerr Harris was single, and lived with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. David Harris, about four miles from Vinton. George W. Cadd, oldest of the six, lived near Vinton with his wife, Amanda Ethel Cadd and three daughters. Another daughter, Virginia, is a graduate nurse employed in Cleveland.
Thomas Godfrey is married and the father of four children. The family home is near Vinton. They first moved from West Virginia to near Cheshire and later to their present home.
Update: Thomas Godfrey, the sixth and last victim of the explosion, died in the Holzer Hospital at 5:45 Wednesday afternoon.
Our thanks to Ray A. Cadd of St. Albans, WV, grandson of George W. Cadd, for providing the material for this article.