Detroit, MI Water Tunnel Explosion, June 1930

EXPLOSION BURIES 18 IN RIVER TUNNEL.

SIXTEEN CRUSHED AGAINST ROCK WALLS OF DEEP PIT.

DETROIT CREW TRAPPED IN SHAFT 200 FEET BELOW RIVER BED; THINK WORKMEN'S ELECTRIC DRILL FIRED "DEAD" DYNAMITE CHARGE.

Detroit, June 9 (UP) -- An explosion of dynamite 200 feet below the bed of the Detroit river buried 18 men in a tunnel Monday killing six and injuring 10 others. Only two escaped without injury.
As the blast reverberated through the tunnel, which is being constructed by the water board and up the shaft, the bodies of men nearest its center were hurled against the rock walls or the temporary structure of the mole.
Everyone in the tunnel was knocked down and some were partially buried beneath the rock and dirt jabbed down by the blast.
HOMER ABEL, who was 50 feet from the dynamite charge, was knocked to the gorund. When he was able to get up he raced to the tunnel head, hundreds of feet away, and up to the top where he spread the alarm.
Rescuers immediately went down the shaft. Injured were brought out first and rushed to hospitals, while all available police and firemen aided or formed a cordon to keep the curious back.
The dead, their bodies mangled by the force of the blast, were brought up wrapped in sheets. They were so badly crushed, police said that they could not be identified immediately.
Most of the injured were rushed to St. Mary's hospital, nearby, while others were taken to the receiving hospital.
Two later died at St. Mary's hospital. The lives of four were crushed out in the underground tomb almost instantly.
The explosion occurred, police said, when a charge of dynamite, placed Sunday, was accidentally discharged.
Several charges were placed in the tunnel Sunday, and some of them failed to explode. Monday laborers and drillers began preparation of other holes for dynamite charges. As one operator of an air drill was working, the point of his drill came in contact with one of the charges. The explosion resulted.

Decatur Evening Herald Illinois 1930-06-09

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DYNAMITE EXPLOSION COSTS SIX LIVES.

BLAST OCCURS UNDER RIVER IN INTAKE TUNNEL.

OTHERS INJURED AS WORKMAN DRIVES PICK INTO CHARGE UNDER DETROIT RIVER.

INQUIRY IS STARTED.

WILL DETERMINE WHETHER OR NOT ACCIDENT WAS DUE TO NEGLIGENCE OF HEAD.

Detroit, June 9 (AP) -- A dynamite explosion in the nearly completed water intake tunnel 225 feet under the Detroit river killed six workmen and injured six others today.
The explosion occurred when a workman's pick struck a forgotten charge of dynamite at the end of the tunnel, 8,200 feet out under the river and within 200 feet of its destination on Belle Isle. The dynamite apparently had been left there by workmen Sunday after it had failed to explode when a charge was set off. The workmen, unmindful of the danger, started clearing away the rock this morning.
The dynamite went off with a terrific concussion and sheets of flame swept back on the workmen. Those working near the explosion were hurled senseless to the floor of the tunnel while rocks and sand fell on them. Others further back were bowled over but recovered, raced for an elevator and ascended to the surface to give the alarm.
The dead are:
CHARLES ZULESKI, 23.
PLEAS TOLLINSON, 29.
ARTHUR MASSEY, 34.
JAMES HARJER, 26.
ELLIS HOWE, 22.
SAM SEBOLDS.
The six injured are:
FRANK BALTY.
CLAUDE WINKLER.
WILLIAM WHITE.
T. CRAIG.
JOHN BORUP.
CLAUDE ALLEY.
Four of the men were dead when brought to the surface the other two died in a hospital shortly after.
There were 36 men in the tunnel when the explosion occurred. Believing that a score or more were trapped in the debris, a large rescue squad composed of police, firemen and laborers went into the tunnel. All the workmen were accounted for shortly after the explosion.
Police executives and investigators from the prosecuting attorney's office were making an investigation tonight, with a view to determining whether the explosion was the result of negligence in not informing today's shift that dynamite was in the tunnel.
Although the explosion occurred in that portion of the tunnel which is beneath the river only a few gallons of water seeped into the workings. Engineers said there would be no danger from this source.

The Rhinelander Daily News Wisconsin 1930-06-10

Comments

Name correction

In the above article about the water tunnel explosion in Detroit in 1930, the name of one of the men killed is spelled incorrectly. James Harjer is not correct. His name was James Harper. I know this because he was my Gradfather. He was killed when my father was 4 years old. My father still has the newspaper clipping that described the accident

misspelled names

The same is true about Sam Seabolt. They list his name as Sam Seabold. Amazing you would think they would take the time to make sure they could at least spell the names of the victims correct. I wonder what else they "misprinted"