Whale Explosion Engineer George Thomas Thornton Dies

By JEFF BARNARDAssociated Press October 31, 2013 at 2:40 pm
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Screen Shot 2013-10-31 at 2.35.25 PM

This is literally a whale exploding. (YouTube/Discovery)

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GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) — George Thomas Thornton, an Oregon highway engineer whose 1970 decision to use a half-ton of dynamite to blast away a beached dead whale has died. He was 84.

The Oregon Department of Transportation says Thornton was a highly respected engineer who worked for the agency for 37 years.

In November 1970, he got the call to remove a 45-foot-long sperm whale that washed up near Florence. He decided to use dynamite to disintegrate the animal. The blast rained down pieces of whale that covered spectators and flattened the roof of a car.

A Portland TV station filmed the explosion, and it was broadcast widely. The video of the whale explosion remains a popular feature on YouTube.

Perl Funeral Home in Medford confirmed Thornton died Oct. 27. His family declined to comment.

RYOT NOTE: If you prefer saving sea creatures rather than blowing them up, check out Oceana, the only nonprofit solely dedicated to protecting and improving all our precious oceans. Click on the Action Box above this story to learn more and Become the News!

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