A boy, trapped in the pain of death

The tragic story about endless hours of agony in the cold embrace of earth and concrete.
The tragic story about endless hours of agony in the cold embrace of earth and concrete.

Unfortunate accident

On Sunday morning, April 14, 1935, 27 years old Avgust Kelnarič, well digging assistant from the vicinity of Maribor was digging a well at Pobrežje in Maribor (Slovenia). When he was at the bottom of the well and in the moment, when he removed the frame, he was flooded with a mixture of concrete, earth and gravel. The unlucky boy was buried up to the neck.

Persistent rescuing attempts

Firefighters and rescuers from Pobrežje, Studenci and Tezno, were quickly informed and arrived at the scene to start the rescue operation. About ten meters from the well, they began to dig a meter wide channel to a depth of eight meters. When they were about 2 meters from Kelnarič, the earth once again collapsed. Re-digging was difficult. The rescue operation lasted until 3 o'clock in the night, but without success.

On Monday morning city experts for digging deep channels took over the rescuing. Late in the evening they managed to come closer to the buried alive victim through a new deep channel. They dug under his feet, but then realized that the concrete around the victim has already started to dry. They tried to break the cement, but gravel poured again, so they had to stop.

On Tuesday, the third day of rescue operation, one of the city newspapers reported: "The rescuing from Sunday till Monday morning was unsuccessful, because the gravel poured again and again. So, they put a wooden box over Kelnarič's head, to which they supplied air from above through pipes and refreshed him with tea". On Tuesday morning the district governor Mr. Milan Makar also visited the scene of the accident. The victim was already significantly weakened, but still conscious. Nearly a thousand curious people came at the scene that day. Public order was maintained by constables, firefighters and prison guards.

I accuse...

Unfortunately, Kelnarič died the next day, on Wednesday, April 17, 1935, after 76 hours of agony in the cold embrace of earth and concrete. The news of his death quickly spread through the city and triggered public outrage. In the evening, ten thousand people gathered at the scene of the accident and loudly insisted there for many hours. Later, it was widely considered that the rescue operation was not done with proper methods. The authorities should have called the experts from Trbovlje mine. That is the reason why on the grave of Avgust Kelnarič, buried at the Pobrežje Cemetery (Maribor, Slovenia), you can see the inscription: "I accuse...".

A tragic destiny

The story of Avgust Kelnarič is just one of the many stories from Pobrežje Cemetery that reveals a particularly tragic end of a life path. Do you know any similar story that is linked to one of the graves at your home town cemetery? Contact us and let us know!

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