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LEES, John H. "Jack"

    Johnstown Daily Tribune, 11 May 1915, Contributed by Sharon Trosan

Electricity is Death's Agent For J. H. Lees. 4,000 Volts Grip Well-Known Athlete High in Air--Death Follows Fall. Cut Wire to Release. When "Jack" Lees' body came into contact with a live wire on a pole 36 feet above the ground, at the corner of Broad street and Tenth avenue about 6:45 o'clock last evening, death was certain for him. Four thousand volts of electricity sizzled through his body and seared his flesh. He was suspended there, in awful torment of physical agony, and with death by incineration sure unless he was rescued. Louis McMullen, a fellow workman, climbed the pole and with hands protected with rubber gloves cut the wire breaking the current's grip. The lineman's body dropped to the ground. Worth Berkey, another fellow workman, reached Lees side at once and heard him gasp, "Oh my." He lapsed into unconsciousness and probably death resulted immediately. W. F. Albright, Superintendent of the electrical department of the Citizens Light, Heat & Power Company sent a hurry call to the Cambria Hospital, while others applied first aid. The hospital's emergency car brought a pulmotor, and it was used for some time. Finally the attempt to restore the spark of life was seen to be futile. Undertaker John Pendry took charge of the body.

John H. Lees was on of the best-known and most popular amateur athletes in Johnstown. Hundreds of his friends read with sorrow the briefly given news of his tragic death on the Tribune's bulletin board last evening, and their grief was given further expression today. "Jack" Lees was of the fine type of American manhood of which the people of this Nation are proud. He was one of the organizers of the Mohawk basketball team six years ago, and since that time he had taken an active interest in basketball in this and adjoining counties. He was captain and manager of the 1914-1915 Mohawk Big Five, playing at guard. He officiated as referee in a number of championship basketball contests.. He was also a baseball player of ability and was the manager of the All-Aboard Bible Class team of the Park avenue U. B. Church last summer.

Plans for the official investigation of the fatality were being considered today. It is probable the Coroner C. A. Fitzgerald, of South Fork, will conduct an inquest the last of this week. According to Supt. Albright, Lees had been at work on the pole for two and a half hours, and had about finished the repairs he was making and had started to descend the pole, in accordance with instructions. His back came into contact with the charged wire, a primary line to Morrellville. Four thousand volts of electricity do not furnish a necessarily fatal shock, and it seems hardly likely that the shock alone would have been sufficient to have caused Lees' death. Jerry Lingenfelter, a workman at the Citizens plant, about a year ago received 22,000 volts of direct current and responded to the first aid treatment given him and is living today. It is thought that the electric shock and fall together caused Lee's death. One of Lees' hands was seared.

John Henry Lees had been employed by the Citizens' Company the last six or seven months. His trade was that of a layer out of tracks, at the Lorain Steel Company plant, where he had been employed for several years. He also was for a time a member of Chemical Company No. 1, in the city Fire Department. The young man was born in Johnstown 26 years ago August 23 last, being a son of Mr. and Mrs. William Lees, of 162 Griffith street, who survive him. He is also survived by his widow, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Fisher, and he following brothers and sisters: David, George, Thomas, and Albert, of Johnstown, Elizabeth at home, and Mrs. Emma Blanch Weaver, of Holidaysburg. The tragic death of the young athlete brought keenly to the minds of members of the family and close friends the memory of another tragedy 13 years ago when the lives of two of John H. Lees brothers were snuffed out in the Cambria Rolling Mill Mine disaster. They were William and Daniel Lees. Their brother-in-law, William Blanch, lost his life at the same time. The brothers and the brother-in-law were working in Klondike region of the mine, in which the explosion was the worst. They were engaged in driving entries when the explosion came.

Arrangements for the funeral were made early this afternoon. The body has been taken to the Lees home at 162 Griffith street. Services will be held there at 2:30 o'clock Thursday afternoon, in charge of the Rev. Earl C. Weaver, pastor of the Park avenue United Brethren Church, of which the young man was a member. The members of the Mohawk basketball team will be the pallbearers. They are Messrs August Coleman, James Ringler, Harry Gore, Cedus Miller, Arthur Berkebile and Walter Berkey. The body will be laid to rest in Grandview Cemetery.

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