Brockville, ON Ship J. B. KING Explodes, June 1930
30 DIE WHEN BOLT EXPLODES BLASTS ON RIVER BOTTOM.
DRILL BOAT ON ST. LAWRENCE IS BLOWN TO BITS; LIGHTNING FOLLOWS DRILLS.
Brockville, Ont. -- (AP) -- Explosion by a bolt of lightning of several charges of dynamite placed in the rocky bed of the St. Lawrence river was blamed today for the death of 20 men, killed when the blast tore the drill boat, J. B. KING, to bits.
Only 12 members of the crew of 42 were rescued. Several of them were severely injured and were brought to hospitals here.
The drill boat which was owned by J. P. PORTER & Sons, St. Catherines, Ont., was engaged in blasting a channel thru Brockville narrows, off Cockburn Island, on the eastern fringe of the Thousand Island grouup Thursday when the explosion occurred.
Flash; Boat Disappears.
Several holes had been drilled in the rock and filled with dynamite and the day crew was drilling additional holes to place more dynamite when an electrical storm broke over the river about 4:30 p.m. Many of the night shift were asleep below the decks.
Witnesses said they saw a flash of lightning dart down to the boat, followed immediately by a terrific explosion. The air was filled with debris and the drill boat had disappeared.
Some reports were that there had been a large quantity of dynamite aboard the J. B. KING which had been exploded by the flash. LUTHER GUCHENBECKER, superintendent in charge of the work, who was ashore at the time said there was no dynamite aboard the boat.
Lightning Follows Drills.
He said the explosion was caused by lightning following the steel drills which were working in the rock or wires leading to the charges which had been placed.
The explosion was witnessed by the crew of the U.S. coast guard cutter 211, which was passing in charge of Captain G. B. LOK, with M. R. RASMUSSEN, chief inspector of the Buffalo district aboard. After landing 12 survivors, the cutter returned to the scene and searched for others.
R. A. McNEIL, foreman of the day shift, a survivor, said that the boat seemed to disappear from beneath his feet when the blast occurred.
Three bodies were recovered. One of these was found by the coast guard life boat crew wedged into a mass of wreckage. It was removed and taken ashore to await identification.
Waterloo Daily Courier Iowa 1930-06-27