Bethesda, OH and Pottsville, PA Six Miners Killed In Two States, Sep 1966


Bethesda, Ohio (UPI) - Rescue workers risked their lives in the coal fields of Ohio and Pennsylvania Thursday in futile efforts to save six men.
Three miners, presumed dead, were sealed in a fiery tomb near here. The crushed bodies of three others killed in a cave-in were brought out of a mine near Pottsville, Pa.
The cave-in victims had been working to shore-up tunnels in a mine which state officials had ordered closed Sept. 8 on the grounds it was unsafe.
The fire broke out deep inside a soft coal mine near this West Virginia-Ohio town at noon Wednesday. WILLIAM ADAMS, 33, of Barnesville, Ohio, who had been outside the mine on a coffee break, ran into the mine and sounded the alarm.
He counted 12 men running out and then went inside again in search of KEITH SPICER, 22, of Dillonvale, Ohio, a miner for only two months, and TONY TERRITTI, 43, of Wheeling, W. Va.
ADAMS died a hero's death with SPICER and TERRITTI.
The difficult decision to end rescue efforts was announced by Lester Zimmerman, head of the Ohio Mines Bureau.
"We can't get in," Zimmerman said. "The rescue teams risked their lives with no success. We feel now the men are absolutely dead and we can't risk the rescuers' lives any longer."
While rescuers here battled flames, similar teams near Pottsville, Pa., hampered by a driving rainstorm which turned the area into a sea of mud and dumped streams of water down the mine shaft, clawed their way through tons of rock and coal to reach three men trapped by a cave-in.
After 20 hours of digging they found RUSSELL DIBERT of Wiconsico, Pa., and JOHN HNAEISHON and STANLEY GRAVISH, both of Cumbola, Pa., dead. The coroner said they suffocated.
At Bethesda, heavy, black smoke poured out of all three mine openings during rescue operations. The blaze had been started by a short circuit on a cutting machine cable.
Ben Morgan, owner of the mine, said if the fire burns itself out he would try to recover the bodies. He said he did not know if he would ever work the mine again.
Zimmerman said if there were no air holes at the sealed entrances, the fire could burn itself out in two weeks. If, however, the seal leaks, the fire could burn indefinitely and the bodies of three miners might never be recovered.

The Post-Standard Syracuse New York 1966-09-16