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Doverspike Brothers Coal Company
Dora No. 2 Mine Asphyxiation

Dora, Jefferson County, Pennsylvania
June 1, 1966
No. Killed - 5

USBM Final Investigation Report  (1.0 Mb)  PDF Format

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Rescuer Deaths

After cutting into a void, resulting in an inundation of "blackdamp" in the Doverspike Bros. Dora No. 2 mine, two miners were instantly overcome.  The other 5 crew members managed to escape, however, three of them returned to help their fallen co-workers and were also overcome.  Those immediately affected were Sam Gaul and Ronald Moore.  Those attempting rescue included John Kramer, Robert White, and Hilton Neiswonger.

Area Mine Mishap Kills 5
Indiana Evening Gazette, Pennsylvania
June 2, 1966

Dora -- Five miners died, three of them in a heroic but fatal rescue effort, when their continuous mining machine drilled into a pocket of deadly "black damp" near this Jefferson County village last night.

Two other members of a seven-man crew survived.

Federal and state mining inspectors as well as Jefferson County authorities are untangling details of the mine tragedy today.

It occurred at the Doverspike Brothers operations, about one and one-half miles east of Dora and 15 miles west of Punxsutawney.

Victims of asphyxiation were:
  • John Kramer, 33, of Punxsutawney R. D. 3
  • Sam Gaul, 39, of Punxsutawney R. D. 3
  • Robert White, 47, Punxsutawney R. D. 1
  • Hilton Neiswonger, 27, Mayport R. D. 2
  • Ronald Moore, about 25, Reynoldsville R. D.
Escaping without apparent injury were James Ishman of the Brookville area, and Orien Anthony, 30, of New Bethlehem.

First reports indicate the crew, manning a continuous miner, cut into an abandoned working, striking the lethal "black damp" -- a miner's term for air without oxygen.

Gaul and Moore were apparently overcome instantly.

The other five crew members fled the scene successfully.

But three -- Kramer, Neiswonger and White -- reportedly decided to return to the area to rescue their buddies.  They were overcome.

Ishman, in the meantime, ran for help while Anthony, according to first reports, waited outside the mine.

Carl Doverspike, one of the mine owners, said the crew struck the "black damp" about 8:30 p.m. last night.

Recovery of the bodies was delayed until about 4 a.m. today while mine workers, inspectors and officials set up ventilating operations.

Mine officials said the mishap occurred about 4,700 feet from the mine opening.

The operation is known as Doverspike's Dora No. 2 mine, one of two operations in the immediate area owned by James and Carl Doverspike.

About 65 miners are employed at the mine.  Nineteen of the employees, working in three crews, were in the mine last night.

"It's quite a tragedy.  Nothing else can be said," Carl Doverspike, the co-owner, told the Gazette this morning.

Recovery of the bodies could not be made immediately because of the dreaded "black damp."

Dr. Robert L. Shaffer, Jefferson County coroner, was called to the scene when the bodies were brought out of the mine.

The victims were removed to Punxsutawney by the Esposito Ambulance Service.

Heading the investigation today is T. E. Jones, a deputy secretary of mines of Ebensburg.

Preliminary reports indicate Moore was single, while White is survived by his wife and two children, Neiswonger by his wife and two children, Gaul by his wife and eight children and Kramer by his wife and three children.

The Doverspike mine is completely automated with continuous miners and an all conveyor belt featuring the operation.

The tragedy marks the first fatality for the Doverspike brothers in their 14 years of operation in the Dora area.

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