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Mine Disasters in the United States

Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Coal Co.
Tripp Shaft Hoisting Disaster of the Diamond Colliery

Scranton, Lackawanna County, Pennsylvania
December 9, 1914
No. Killed 13

Description:  When lowering the third cage load of men into the Tripp Shaft of the Diamond Colliery, 13 men were precipitate from the cage at a point about 285 feet below the surface of the sump, a distance of about 300 feet, and fearfully mangled.  One man was found clinging to the side of the cage when it reached the Clark vein, 300 feet below the surface.

Mine Cage Falls 200 Feet and 13 Men Meet Death
Gazette and Bulletin, Williamsport, Pennsylvania
December 10, 1914

Scranton, Dec. 9. -- The collapsing of the platform of a mine cage dropped thirteen men 200 feet to their death at the Tripp Shaft of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western Coal Company's Diamond Colliery at 6:25 o'clock this morning.  A fourteenth man saved himself by clinging to the cage.

The dead are:
  • Thomas Thomas, 60
  • Anthony Shonis, 22
  • Kast Pecku, 46
  • James Magrubas, 45
  • John Pubnaitia
  • Charles Tankus, 30
  • Peter Tankus, 25
  • Anthony Grabuianas, 35
  • William Zalukouis
  • Joseph Samulgis, 38
  • Andrew Peper, 29
  • John Pasley, 20
  • John Terasavage, 40
Lone Man Climbs to Safety

John Bolinski, the man who escaped, had an instinctive fear of the mine cage and had made it a practice for several years to cling to the side bars every time he rode up or down.

After the floor of the cage dropped he clung to the rod and then climbed down the shafting to the Clark vein landing a distance of a dozen feet.

It is not yet determined what caused the collapse of the cage flooring.  That there were four more men on the cage than the law allows is admitted by the company officials, but they are at a loss they say to account for the violation.  The law limiting ten men to a trip was passed in consequence of an accident at this same colliery March 21, 1869, when a cable parted and dropped the cage several hundred feet to the bottom of the shaft, killing thirteen of the fifteen men aboard.

First Reported as Explosion

The first report of this morning's accident had it that one of the men on the cage was carrying a twenty-five pound bag of dynamite on his shoulder and that a jarring of the cage caused him to drop it, causing an explosion.  Investigation later failed to show any evidence of any explosion in the shaft and the company officials claim that the escape of Bolinski proves that there was no explosion such as at first reported.  Bolinski was so terrified by his experience that he could not tell a coherent story of what happened.  It was impossible for the officials or the reporters to gain from his story any reliable information as to what caused the accident.

Bodies Badly Mangled

The bodies were badly mangled by the fall of 200 feet with the wreckage of the carriage platform falling on top of them, but they bore no marks to indicate that there had been an explosion.  General Superintendent R. A. Phillips said it was possible one of the men might have dropped a small stick of dynamite or a box of detonators, which would cause an explosion sufficiently forceful to shatter the platform of the cage.

Coroner W. M. Lynch and Mine Inspector S. J. Phillips are conducting an investigation.

Thomas Thomas, the aged doortender who was killed, was a veteran of the mines.  Years ago an accident lamed him and he had to give up his miner's place to become a doortender.  His old injury was bothering him this morning and he was hardly able to walk even with the aid of his cane.  One of the men on the carriage assisted Thomas to get on.

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