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franklin county times

Workers' comp inspector on scene of fatal accident

By By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
March 22, 2001
YORK An inspection of a sewer manhole on Fourth Street today may further officials' investigation into the recent deaths of three city employees and the hospitalization of another.
Arthur Jones, J.D. Coleman and Otha Hinson died of asphyxiation. The men inhaled toxic methane gas fumes while working on a sewer line in the manhole two weeks ago. Jones, 35, and Coleman, 44, died about 21/2 hours after the incident occurred. Hinson, 35, died two days later.
David Webb was released from Druid City Hospital in Tuscaloosa Monday and is recovering at home, York Mayor Carolyn Gosa said.
The cause of the incident is undetermined.
She said a workers' compensation insurance investigator questioned people the day the incident occurred. York police officers and Sumter County sheriff's investigators are also working on the case.
Gosa said investigators plan to interview Webb. The workers' compensation investigator, law enforcement officers and city officials plan to meet at the manhole today.
Though they have hired an attorney, there has been no lawsuit filed by the families of the three men who died.
She said city employees who worked closely with the three men who died are coping.
She said city officials formed a grief committee for the employees and family members. A minister, a city council member, a grief specialist on retainer for the city and other people from the community are part of the committee.
The men's funerals were held over the weekend.
She said people have given generously to memorial funds set up at the Bank of York for the survivors and encourages additional contributions.
To contribute, call (205) 392-5205 and ask for Frances Moll, or go by the bank at 301 Broad St.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.