Mitchell, IN Lehigh Portland Cement Co. Explosion, 4 Killed, Jun 1961

Daily Tribune, Seymour, IN newspaper, Seymour, IN
Thursday 22 June 1961; Front Page, Column 3

Four Killed In Mitchell Plant Blast

Cleaning Woman, Three Construction Workers Die As Gas Explosion Wrecks New Building

MITCHELL, IN (AP) - Four workers were killed and a dozen others were injured Wednesday as an explosion attributed to an accumulation of natural gas wrecked a nearly-completed building at a cement plant.

Dead Listed

Rose Ann BLACKWELL, 54, Mitchell, a cleaning woman working her first day at the Lehigh Portland Cement Co. plant, and Harry MAY, 38, Bedford, were killed in the blast. Seward MUNDY, 55, Bedford, and Larry RUNYON, 27, Bloomington, died in Dunn Memorial Hospital.

Reported in critical condition were Griffith Ogden, 34, Indianapolis, Emery Cooper, Bedford, and John Benny Roberts, 27, Evansville.

Richard Perkins, 20, Indianapolis, Lloyd Ramsey, 56, Bedford, and Claude Cade, 40, Bedford, were listed in serious condition. Six others required medical treatment but were not hospitalized. Several suffered slight injuries.

Sent To Scene

Trooper J. K. Miller, of the Seymour state police post, was sent to the scene of the explosion at Mitchell Wednesday afternoon to assist with handling sightseers during clean-up operations. Much help was needed in the area after the blast.

Mrs. BLACKWELL had just started on the cleanup job in the final stages of construction of the building, a scale house. The men were construction workers who had been building the 60 by 90-foot building, where trucks were to be weighed in and out of the plant.

"There's no question but what it wqas a natural gas explosion," said David Volk of Bedford, project engineer for the Fruin-Colnon(sic) Construction Co. Volk said natural gas was being piped into the building for heating purposes.

"We're very upset about it and we're doing all we can to ascertain what the exact cause was," Volk said.

Occurs At Lunch Time

The explosion occurred at lunch time. Some of the 24 workers on the construction crew were away and some were just returning.

The cement plant empolys about 250 workers, but they were in other buildings separated from the scale house.

James Hensinger, Lehigh general manager here, said te blast occurred after a workman struck a match preparatory to lighting two gas water heaters. The workman believed to have been one of those who died in the explosion.

Hensinger said the blast blew the roof and other parts of the building 100 feet in the air and collapsed all four walls.

The dead and injured were employed by subcontractors for Fruin-Conlon(sic).

Find A Grave Memorial #51373387

Larry Lee RUNYON
Find A Grave Memorial #67557867


Lloyd Ramsey (Pa--my grandpa)

Hello. I'm glad I found this. I've been wondering abt it for decades. I was less than 2 yrs old when this happened. Altho Pa didn't die in the blast (for which I'm thankful--& sorry for those who did & their families), Pa was hurt severely enough that it hastened his death. He died in Sept 1964. It seems a long time later, I so wish I'd had more yrs with him so I could have more memories. He meant everything to me. Sometimes I can barely wait to see him again--& I believe I will. He was a wonderful man.