William Sharpe buried under brick and rubble when wall of kiln suddenly collapses - body uncovered within five minutes - Franklyn Loft and Jake Froese escape with injuries.
William Sharpe, 46, of North Grimsby, was killed almost instantly, while two other employees of the Grimsby Brick and Tile Co. escaped serious injury, when a section of a brick kiln collapsed as the men were unloading tile on Tuesday afternoon.
Sharpe, the father of two children, was buried by the falling brick and was dead when employees who dashed to the scene unearthed his battered body some five minutes after the fatal accident. Franklyn Loft, 30, R.R. 3, Beamsville, who was working alongside Sharpe, was buried up to his waist, and was in an unconscious condition when extricated from the kiln. Jake Froese, 18, R.R. 2, Beamsville, was buried under four feet of brick rubble for over four minutes, but was conscious when fellow workers located him. Both Froese and Loft were removed to West Lincoln Memorial Hospital in an ambulance.
Interviewed at the hospital several hours after the accident, suffering mostly from shock and head lacerations, Loft told his version of the accident, the first serious mishap to occur at the brickyard since it opened in 1946. He related how a few minutes before the quarter section of the kiln collapsed, a single brick had fallen, and although this served as a warning that the top of the kiln was apparently not entirely sound, the three men had continued to remove the finishing tile, loading it onto a truck which stood at the entrance of No. 3 kiln.
Eye-witness to the accident was Len Edmonds of Beamsville, operator of the truck being loaded. Edmonds saw the sudden collapse of the kiln and, while only a few feet away, was unable to warn the men inside - the crash came without any warning.
Edmonds quickly called for assistance and employees came from all corners of the sprawling plant to help unearth the trapped men. So frantically did these rescuers work that some came away from the scene with bleeding hands.
In only a few more minutes the three men would have removed all the tile from that section of the kiln which collapsed. Sharpe and Loft loaded a wheelbarrow with tile which in turn was pushed out to the waiting truck by Froese.
Froese said from his hospital bed that he was kneeling on one knee when the brick came crashing down upon them. Although he was completely buried by about 4 feet of brick, he remained conscious and could hear the voices of the searchers, who experienced difficulties knowing where to start digging for the three men.
"I yelled my head off all the time I was buried," commented Froese, who had only a single band aid on his forehead to remind him of his brush with death.
William Sharpe, victim of the unfortunate accident, had been an employee of the yard for several years and according to Mr. Cox, superintendent, "was one of the best men I had." Sharpe served with the Canadian Army in World War II.
Born in the Winona district in 1904, Sharpe had resided in this district practically all his life. Besides his widow, Irene, he is survived by two sons, Cecil, 15, and Garfield, 8. Four brothers, James, St. Catharines; Charles, Galt; Earl, Beamsville; and Irvin of Hamilton also survive; and two sisters, Mrs. Valeen Lacey, and Mrs. G.A. Miholyl, both of Toronto.
Funeral services will be held this afternoon (Thursday) at 2 o'clock from the Stonehouse Funeral Home at Grimsby. Interment will be made at Kirk Cemetery, Attercliffe.