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Works Manager battles sulphuretted gases to save two men

Year 1892

Read by David Lloyd-Edwards – Supporter, Royal Humane Society

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Wylie, M., Works Manager.

On the 2nd May, 1892, at the Pulo Saigon Bridge Works, Singapore, an accident occurred, which might have had a fatal termination had it not been for the gallantry displayed by Mr. M. Wylie, in charge of the works.

Messrs. Riley, Hargreaves, and Co., engineers, were sinking cast iron cylinders for a new bridge, one of them having been sunk thirty-six feet, and having in it about four feet of water. Shortly after the midday meal two Javanese descended to recommence work; they had been put down but a minute or two, when the man at the top in charge of the wire rope called out that the men were suffocating. Mr. Wylie looked down, and saw one man reeling about, and trying to get the other into the bucket. He at once slipped down (the wire peeling his hands in the descent), assisted in putting the more unconscious of the two into the bucket, held him there, and came to the surface with him.

No sooner had the man been taken out of the bucket than it was seen that his companion below had entirely succumbed to the foul gas, and had sunk below the water surface. Mr. Wylie without hesitation, again went down, notwithstanding the fact that his former descent had seriously affected him, groped about in the water, and succeeded in finding the second man, and with the greatest difficulty was he able to put him into the bucket, but not before he himself was reeling from the effects of the gas. The two men were hauled up together, and half an hour elapsed before the Javanese could be restored to consciousness.

Mr. Wylie had to be sent home, so severely was he suffering from his descent. His watch and chain and a dollar were turned perfectly black by the exposure to the deleterious sulphuretted gases in the cylinder.

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