July 9, 1909


Was Suspended From Guy Rope Over
Flood Waters of Missouri With
High Tension Current
Paralyzing Body.

Suspended over the waters of the Missouri river from a guy rope on the discharge pope of the new pump in the East Bottoms, while a high tension current coursed through his body, paralyzing him and burning his flesh, A. J. Winnie, an electrician, was saved from death yesterday afternoon by Miss Mary Johnson, who, at the risk of her own life, grabbed his body and broke the short circuit. She was severely shocked as was her brother, Dan Johnson, but between them they rescued the lineman without serious injury to either.

The accident occurred in the early part of the afternoon. Miss Johnson is a daughter of A. D. Johnson of 334 Olive street, the contractor who built the pumping station, and she has been greatly interested in seeing the big centrifugal pump work. With a friend, Mrs. J. Dixon, she visited the pumping house yesterday afternoon. Her brother, Dan, was awaiting them and rowed them to the pump house, which stands some distance in what is now part of the Missouri river. The pump had been turned over to the city Wednesday night but Mr. Johnson remained there to render any assistance that might be needed by J. Nepher, the city inspector, and A. J. Winnie, the electrician who was given charge of the plant.


A test of the pump was favorably commented on by the women and when the big motor was stopped, Winnie worked at the incandescent lights about the room. The pump house is ten feet above the present height of the river and it was planned to place clusters of electric lights on river and shore sides of the building. These would be over openings in the building eight feet in width. To place the lamps on the river side, Winnie found it necessary to get on the roof. To reach that place he clambered out on the big discharge pipe and then with his left arm over the steel guy rope he threw his right arm over the conduit which centered the big opening in the pump house.

Miss Johnson was about to compliment him on his agility, when his body suddenly became rigid, his face took on a look of agony and smoke curled up from his right hand and arm. Miss Johnson had studied electricity. She realized that Winnie had formed a connection with a high tension current, and that it was shocking him to death, having completely paralyzed him so that he could not help himself.

Without a thought for her own safety, she leaned forward and grasped him about the body. Her brother Dan, who was standing a few feet away, grabbed at her at the same time and the current passed through the trio. The force of the hold which Miss Johnson took a Winnie was sufficient to break his grasp of the charged conduit, and he swung helpless from the guy rope.


The shock which Miss Johnson and her brother received stunned them, but they quickly recovered and, taking hold of Winnie, helped him into the pumphouse.

Winnie was badly burned. It took some time before he recovered sufficiently to realize how he had been saved. The skin was burned from his right hand, and his left arm was seared in several places where the current had passed through his body to the guy rope from which he was suspended. Miss Johnson applied oils to his burns and Winnie announced after thanking her that he would remain on the "job" until his time was up in the evening.

It was not until an hour after the incident that Mr. Johnson or his sister realized how close to death Winnie had been or the risk Miss Johnson had taken when she grasped his swinging body.

Miss Johnson modestly disclaimed any special credit for her part in saving Winnie from death.

"I knew enough about electricity to realize that he was grounded, and the first thing I thought of was to break the connection. To do this I made a grab at him, but did not think that I would get the shock that I did. Brother Dan grabbed me at the same time, or perhaps I would have fallen in the river. As it was, we both received severe shocks, but they did not injure us."