George Willis Loses Life in Grand River Body Recovered After Two Hours Frank HAMMER has Narrow Escape Results From Slipping Into Deep Hole.
An appalling accident occurred about twelve miles southeast of here on the Grand River, Sunday, resulting in the drowning of one of our citizens and in all but the drowning of another. George WILLIS, son of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph WILLIS, was the man drowned and Frank HAMMER was the man who came so near losing his life.
Mr. WILLIS and Mr. Frank HAMMER, in company with Clarence YOUNG, Lyman FRINK and Alex HEATHMAN, had gone down to the Grand at a point directly east of the Steve EASTON farm, near which place the drowning occurred, the day before, for a couple of days of fishing and recreation. The drowning occurred shortly after the noon hour, Sunday, when the party assisted by O. A. PARKHURST and Ernest SEYMOUR, two young men of the EASTON community were in the act of seining a deep hole with a seine proffered by PARKHURST and SEYMOUR.
PARKHURST, the best swimmer of the party, took the line of one end of the seine, entering the stream; YOUNG followed with the stake; HEATHMAN and SEYMOUR remained on the bank with the other end of the seine, it being the work of WILLIS and HAMMER to manage the center of the seine, seeing that it properly entered the hole.
The hole to be seined was a treacherous one, being about fifteen feet deep, which had apparently been washed out by the action of the stream. Its sides were very steep and abrupt. All members of the party, with the exception of FRINK who remained on the bank, had made a thorough examination of the hole, its depth and limitations, each one knowing and understanding his particular part of the work. WILLIS, PARKHURST and YOUNG had swam repeatedly across the hole and all were ready for the work of seining it.
PARKHURST and YOUNG proceeded with their end of the seine, going in a circle, as the net necessitated, HEATHMAN and SEYMOUR remaining on the bank, hence PARKHURST and YOUNG would swim around and back to the landing, completing the attempt to land the fish supposed to be in the hole. WILLIS and HAMMER would follow up the center of the seine.
As PARKHURST and YOUNG proceeded on their round, WILLIS and HAMMER neared the edge of the hole sooner than was expected, slipped down its abrupt side into deep water. He struggled for a moment, seeming powerless to regain his position in the shallow water. Seeing that he could not get out he called to WILLIS for help. WILLIS reached over as if to extend his hand to the sinking man, and he also slipped into the hole.
Strange as it may seem WILLIS was also unable to keep above water, being even more helpless than HAMMER. He made no struggle, no sign for help, and without a moment's warning sank quietly into the water to rise no more. HAMMER grabbed at WILLIS' shirt, thinking to rescue him, but was too weak to retain his grasp and WILLIS sank deeper into the peaceful waters, from which he never rose until two hours latter when he was rescued by the party and others coming to their assistance.