Terre Haute, IN Meat Packing Plant Explosion, Jan 1963

Bodies Of 15 Recovered In Plant Blast

By JAMES R. POLK
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) - Rescue crews with cranes recovered two more bodies this morning from the ruins of a meat packing plant, pushing the toll of Wednesday's explosion to 15.
The search continued for one other victim believed buried in the mountainous rubble.
Victims recovered shortly before dawn were identified at St. Anthony's Hospital as JAMES BUTTREY, 18, and WALLIE HUGHES, 25, both of Terre Haute.
Fifty-five other workers were injured in the explosion that shot through the Home Packing Co. plant here Wednesday, and six were listed in critical or serious condition. Twenty-nine others were under treatment, and 20 were released after treatment.
The last of the missing men were believed to be buried in a giant freezer in the basement of the wrecked plant, under rubble two stories deep.
Officials did not know what caused the blast, but their investigation centered on the possibility of a gas explosion. Methane testing meters showed a dangerous concentration. Ammonia was present but was ruled out as a cause of the blast.
One qualified source who refused to be quoted by name said he suspected a gas leak caused it.
The investigation was adjourned overnight, but the search for the missing men continued through the night under floodlights.
The body of GEORGE D. KAHL, 24, St. Mary-of-the-Woods, was lifted from the ruins early today.
The bodies of JACK R. HAYES, 30, West Terre Haute, and JOHN A. JOSEPH, SR., 60, Terre Haute, had been recovered before midnight, 16 hours after the explosion shattered the plant.
Through the long day and into the night, relatives of the missing men waited near the plant and at St. Anthony's Hospital. One of them was a young wife, 8 months pregnant, in ponytail hairdo and slacks.
The wrecked building had been designated by Civil Defense just last month as a fallout shelter.
The rescue crews dwindled to about 25 men as the night wore on. Earlier about 100 men had been at work in the debris, wearing gas masks because of the ammonia fumes and methane concentration from broken sewer lines.
Victims whose bodies were recovered Wednesday included DONALD W. SCOTT, 47, brother of the president of the firm, ROBERT SCOTT; JAMES TROSPER, JR., 33, and HENRY J. COTTRELL, 37, Clinton; JOSEPH DAVITTO, 58, Universal; HOMER ISLE, 67, West Terre Haute; JOHN J. CALLAHAN, 24, St Mary-of-the-Woods, and LARRY C. CRUM, 20, CARL BENDER, 48, ANDREW A. RUPSKA, 45, and DAR G. GARRED, 21, all of Terre Haute.
Crowds were pushed back one block in all directions and smoking was banned at the rescue site as BERNARD SWEENEY of Terre Haute, chief investigator for the state fire marshal, reported gas "at blowing capacity" in sewers around the plant.
The explosion came just after about 200 workers had reported for duty. The plant had been closed for the Christmas holidays. After the blast a white sign that said, "No help needed today," still hung on an undamaged corner of the plant.
Mayor RALPH TUCKER directed the rescue operations through the day and into the night, his white raincoat streaked with a little blood.

Explosion Dead Are Identified.
TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (UPI) - Dead in the explosion at the Home Packing Co. Wednesday were:
CARL BENDER, 48, Terre Haute.
ANDREW RUPSKA, 45, Terre Haute.
JAMES TROSPER, 33, Clinton.
LARRY CRUM, 20, Terre Haute.
JOSEPH DEVITTO, 58, Universal.
HENRY COTTRELL, 37, Clinton.
HOMER ISLE, 57, West Terre Haute.
DONALD SCOTT, 47, Terre Haute.
DARRELL GARRED, 21, Terre Haute.
JOHN CALLAHAN, 23 St. Mary of the Woods.
JACK HAYES, 30, Shirkieville.
JOHN A. JOSEPH, SR., 59, Terre Haute.
DAVID KAHL, 19, St. Mary of the Woods.
JIM BUTTREY, 18, Terre Haute.
WALLACE HUGHES, 24, Terre Haute.

The Anderson Daily Bulletin Indiana 1963-01-03

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