Willis and Bert Cooper Killed By Natural Gas Encountered While Digging Well on Farm Near Watrous; Distracted Mother Walks Seven Miles to Watrous in Futile Quest for Aid.
[Special Dispatch to the Morning Journal.]
East Las Vegas, N.M., April 25.—Mrs. Zachary Taylor Cooper went out to call her sons to dinner tonight and found them both dead in the bottom of a sixty-foot well which they were engaged in digging on their non-irrigated farm seven miles east of Watrous. The two young men were digging for water but encountered a strong flow of natural gas and were suffocated before they could escape. A message was sent here for a physician, but it was cancelled before he could start, for it was realized that nothing could be done.
Mrs. Cooper has been living for a short time on the ranch with her sons, Willis and Bert. For the past five weeks the young men have been engaged in sinking the well. Within the past week the odor of gas has been noticed from time to time, but there was no thought of danger.
Going to the well this evening, the mother called, but there was no answer. The rush of gas from the mouth of the well told her the fate of her sons. The distracted woman was utterly helpless and had no way in which to make even an effort to get the bodies to the surface. So through the gathering darkness the unhappy mother stumbled at a staggering run the seven miles to Watrous, where help was secured.
The Coopers, mother and sons, came her six months ago from Rosalia, Washington.
Source: Albuquerque Journal, April 26, 1908.