Clipped From The Austin Daily Herald
Small Town Hit Hard by Family Mine Blast ONEIDA, Tenn. (AP) - This small east Tennessee town, where kinship bonds are strong, was hi) hard by an explosion in a family mine that killed nine. All nine men killed Monday in the mining accident at Bobbins, 15 miles south of here, were related by blood or marriage. The victim: all lived in or near Onedia, the Scott County seat. Everyone Related "Every one of them was related to me except Elmer Phillips," said Lee West, director of the Oneida Funeral Home. "And he was related to my wife." A spark from an electric motor is believed to have caused a pocket of gas to explode shortly while the mine ventilating system was i turned off over the weekend. W. 0 West, a partner in the small truck operation, was the only witness and the only survivor. He was standing at the mine tipple, where he heard the explosion and saw smoke roll out of the mine shaft. His brother and partner, Oscar, 47, was one of the victims. $ Little To Say The blast was the worst Tennessee mine accident since 10 men died in an explosion near LaFol lette in 1943. It left townspeople in Oneida with little to say. "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away," one woman mur- mured. "But you're never ready. You're never ready." The victims were Oscar West; another partner, Burl Phillips, 52, and his two sons, Hubert, 30 and Arzo, 17; IBernard, 33, and William Yancey, 36, brothers; John L. Pike, 46; Elmer Phillips, 38; and Ed Chitwood, 50. A woman, walking along the highway in Robbins, moaned: Terrible Thing "Oh, brother, it's a terrible thing. It's so bad, I been crying all morning. Them's folks, brother. Them's folks." Archie Buttram was kin to most of the victims. "Burl Phillips and his boys was third cousins, I guess," he said. 'I was related to the Yanceys, too. I've quit the mines and I'm using an old dirt shovel. It's safer." Next to Arzo His nephew, Jimmy, 19, was to have started work in me mine next week. "I was gonna work right next to Arzo," the boy said, •The mine usually employed 8 to 10 workers. Rescue workers from other mines quickly rushed into the area when W. 0. West sounded the alarm. Audio Acres was one of the first miners to reach the victims, found burned beyond 12c- ognition' 4,000 feet back in the mine.