Appeal, No. 342, Oct. T., 1959, from order of Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County, Feb. T., 1959, No. 44, in case of Florence Rettew, widow, Aldus S. Rettew, deceased, v. Samuel S. Graybill et al. Order affirmed.
Harris I. Weisbrod, with him Marshall M. Cohen, and Gitman & Weisbrod, for appellant.
Ralph M. Barley, with him John C. Pittenger, and Barley, Snyder, Cooper & Mueller, for appellees.
Before Gunther, Wright, Woodside, Ervin, Watkins, and Montgomery, JJ. (rhodes, P.j., absent).
[ 193 Pa. Super. Page 565]
This is a workmen's compensation case in which Florence Rettew, on behalf of herself and three minor children, filed a claim petition alleging that the death of her husband, Aldus S. Rettew, was due to the occurrence of an accident in the course of his employment. The Referee made an award, which the Workmen's
[ 193 Pa. Super. Page 566]
Compensation Board vacated and set aside. The Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County affirmed the Board's disallowance. This appeal followed.
The record discloses that appellant's husband, forty-eight years of age, was a truck driver employed by Samuel S. Graybill who had a contract to haul earth in connection with the construction of the new Pequea Valley High School. On July 22, 1955, Rettew was engaged in his usual occupation. The temperature that day was nearly one hundred degrees, and Rettew was drinking ice water frequently. About 4:00 o'clock in the afternoon he alighted from his truck, walked approximately 200 feet for a drink of ice water, and then collapsed. Dr. Robert R. Bauer was called immediately. He found Rettew lying on his back, beating his chest with his fists, conscious and with no external evidence of bleeding. Dr. Bauer was unable to assign any cause for Rettew's condition. He directed that Rettew be removed to the hospital, where death occurred at 9:00 o'clock the same evening. An autopsy was performed which established the cause of death as a "dissecting aneurysm of the thoracic aorta with intrapericardial perforation and hemopericardium".
At the hearing before the Referee, Dr. Henry N. Williams, the family physician, testified on the basis of his examination of the hospital records and the autopsy report. After stating that the cause of death was a dissecting aneurysm of the aorta, he testified that decedent had a pre-existing heart condition which he described as "a mild brown atrophy". This condition occurs in cases of heart strain over a considerable period of time and is accompanied by enlargement and thickening of the heart, high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. Nevertheless, Dr. Williams testified that "the degree and severity of this tear would certainly indicate a sudden accidental cause for death".
[ 193 Pa. Super. Page 567]
He assigned as his reasons "the excessive heat of the day, the continued effort of work, and the taking in of ice water in fairly large quantities, based upon the ...