David's Scottish Ancestry


Three Investigations Started As Undertaking Wagons Roll From Hospitals.


Pitiful Scenes Enacted in the Naval Training Station Wards Among Scalded Excursionists.


Crowd of 10,000 Throngs Pawtucket, R. I., Stations When Survivors Return From Newport.

NEWPORT, R. I., Aug. 19 (AP).----Thirty-six persons had lost their fight for life tonight, twenty-four hours after they had been enveloped in a flood of steam let loose from the bursting boiler fo the excursion steamer Mackinac bound for Pawtucket, R. I., as she steamed through Narragansett Bay.

There are still left in the Naval Training Station and Newport City Hospital thirty-five persons. Naval physicians said that several, perhaps all, of their patients might die.The death list grew by the hour. Every attendant at the Naval Hospital, where most of the victims were taken, was on duty and worked ceaselessly. As many of the patients as could be removed were taken to the Newport Hospital, where twenty-five volunteer nurses, many of whom saw service overseas, attended them in wards filled with flowers brought from the gardens of Newport's society leaders.

Naval physicians found new deaths in the accident wards on almost every visit. Hospital officials stated that the number of dead would probably reach fifty.

Three Investigations Started.

A defected boiler was ascribed as the cause of the disaster by Oscar A. Heltzen, Assistant Attorney General, who said the State Attorney General's department would investigate to determine whether there was criminal culpability and what, if any, persons were responsible for the conditions which caused the fatalities.

"When the State Investigators inspected the Mackinac's exploded boiler they found it was an old one, deteriorated by wear and thinned down in certain places," said Mr. Heltzen. "What occurred at the time of the explosion was a rupture of the plate in the cross drum extending from the right-hand side of the firebox to the centre of the boiler alongside of the longitudinal seam.

"The longitudinal seam was very thin and the opening was six or seven inches wide, extending upward to the rear of the drum. It appeared that from time to time the boiler had been subjected to extensive repairs by the addition of new bolts and patches.

"The repairs may be evidence that the boiler was in a weakened condition. It has been intimated to the Attorney General's department that an inspection should have determined this condition by the use of hydrostatic or hammer test.

"There appeared next to the longitudinal joint a sign of discoloration for a distance of two and a half feet. This is a suggestion of an old break. An old crack appeared beyond the break made at the time of the explosion. This crack has a splitting appearance instead of the tearing one, which, in the opinion of the State officials, is significant in that in the case of a regular explosion a wide bursting would have taken place, whereas in this case the opening followed the weak spot.

"At the edge of the sheet of metal it is plain to be seen how thin it had become."

Federal Authorities Act.

Federal steamship inspectors and the Newport police started independent investigations. United States Senator Jesse H. Metcalf asked Secretary Hoover to start an immediate inquiry. Captain George McVay, Commander of the vessel, and George Kelly, General Manager of the Blackstone Valley Transportation Company, owners, were among those who accompanied the investigators over the craft.

Boiler Inspector Richard F. Bailey said that the Mackinac's boilers were last inspected in New York. Maritime firms in Newport asserted there was nothing unusual in that, especially since the vessel was in service between Pawtucket and New York in the past and probably often was repaired there.

Virtually every member of the Naval Hospital staff was on duty throughout last night and today and they were aided by nurses from the City Hospital, the Red Cross, Sisters of the Cenacle and the White Sisters.

Captain Charles E. Riggs, commanding officer at the hospital had summoned every available navy physician as well as priests and ministers from the naval vessels in the harbor as soon as the wounded victims began to come in. Inside the hospital two wards were prepared. So swiftly did the sufferers come that many were placed on the floors outside the wards. The majority of those who died at the naval hospital were in such shape, the physicians said, that they could only try to make their last moments as painless as was medically possible.

"Please kill me, I'm suffering so," a brawny Pawtucket policeman pleaded to nurses. An hour later death relieved him from all pain. The officer, one of three killed, was so scalded that the skin on his hands hung in strips. His features were burned so black that he was barely recognizable. Hospital attachés were constantly checking the lists of patients, transferring names from the roll of injured to that of the dead, and all through the day ambulances rolled through the training station gates and carried away to undertaking establishments the bodies of those who had succumbed.

Amid the moaning and screaming victims walked clergymen of all denominations giving spiritual aid. The more seriously injured were all in separate room and it was here that the Catholic priests walked from cot to cot giving the last rites to some only seconds before death came.

A Night of Horror.

The night of horror presented scores of pitiful sights. A girl whose life was despaired of cried out continually, asking why she should die.

In the first group of injured landed was a 10-year-old girl. As Patrolman Timothy Sullivan went to her side she held up her scalded arms and pleaded, "Please blow on them, they burn so."

Men and women sought relatives only to find that they had died. In one ward Jean McCarthy, 15 months old, fought off the death that had claimed her mother, brother and sister, while in another ward her father, James J. McCarthy, lay so badly scalded that was not expected to live.

Although a three months' supply of mineral oils used in treating burns was on hand at the Naval Hospital, additional supplies had to be ordered from all city pharmacies.

It was possible today to obtain more detailed accounts of what befell when the flood of deadly steam, from which there was no escape but jumping overboard, suddenly encompassed the home-ward-bound excursionists.

The groups of merrymakers were first startled by a hissing sound and a surging of the decks about fifteen minutes after they had put out from Newport. Then a cloud of steam enveloped the vessel. Immediately there was a rush for the rails. Two men jumped overboard and were picked up by passing boats. Others climbed to the gunwales and attempted to reach the top deck. Helping hands were lowered to aid them in their rush to safety. Boats were lowered in fear that the craft was going to sink, and life mats and deck gear were tossed overboard.

Cling to Rail in Vapor Cloud.

Those on the first and second decks were trapped. Blinded and almost instantly helpless by the steam pouring from the rent boiler, they could only cry and stagger about in pain. From their number came practically all those who have succumbed. Those on the top decks escaped with minor injuries.

Answering the stricken ship's radio S O S call and the shrieks of her whistle the naval rescuers in launches and boats from the scores of naval vessels lying at anchor off the Naval Training Station found screaming women and children hanging over the rails, enveloped in the vapor, many of them badly burned. Many more had jumped overboard but all had been picked up by passing craft attracted to the spot. Among these was the yacht of Senator Metcalfe.

Students In Crew Victims.

Two of those who succumbed to their injuries today were college students, ERNEST HOPKINSON of Pawtucket, who attended the Rhode Island State College, and JOHN M. HUNTER of Providence, a Brown sophomore. HOPKINSON started work as an oiler on the day of the explosion. HUNTER, who would have been 21 years old next Sunday, took the job against the wishes of his uncle, Charles M. Hunter, said to be a wealthy Providence real estate dealer, who wanted him to spend his summer vacation resting.

Among the several still missing are Alfred Breault of Pawtucket, whose parents fear he jumped overboard and was drowned, and David Burns of the Pawtucket police force, two of whose members, Patrolmen HENRY DICKINSON and ELMER WHITAKER, are dead. Burns jumped overboard and his fellow-officers are positive that he sank, as he was unable to swim. Seven other policemen are in hospitals suffering from severe burns. All of them, however, are expected to recover.

Survivors Tell of Vandals.

There were reports tonight that during the height of the confusion on the steamer last night thieves had broken into the purser's office and that several survivors had reported other operations by vandals. No arrest were made, however, and no one was found who admitted loss by theft.

Newport mariners tonight said that death list was extremely low in view of the fact that 677 excursionists were on the steamer. Had the explosion occured (sic) further away from land and had the naval training station been so near, the loss of life probably would have been much greater, they say.

Mayor Sullivan, who had taken an active part in the relief work, expressed his gratitude for the navy's work of mercy to both Secretary Wilbur and Admiral McKeon, commander of the U. S. S. Wyoming. His message of thanks to the latter follows: "The City of Newport is profoundly grateful to you and to the officers and men of your ships for their heroic achievements in Newport Harbor in rescuing from death hundreds of men, women and children."

Senator Metcalfe Aids Survivors.

Senator Metcalfe, after rescuing some of those who had jumped from the steamer, proceeded to Newport and requested Superintendent H. A. Monahan of the Old Colony Division of the New Haven Railroad to make up a special train to carry the uninjured passengers to their homes in Pawtucket.

The railroad official had a train of nine cars ready when the first of the fleet of automobiles, carrying more than 500 of the survivors, arrived at the station from the docks. Several score of those only slightly injured were also taken to Pawtucket aboard the special train after their injuries had been treated.

About fifty of the passengers remained housed in various homes near the Naval Hospital, where they telephoned to relatives and waited for their arrival in automobiles to take them home. The Mackinac, after the disaster, was towed to Sullivan's wharf here. Captain McVey commanded the ill-fated Larchmont when she sank off Watch Hill Light in 1907 with between 125 and 175 passengers on board. He was exonerated of all blame. As the Mackinac lay at the wharf there was little external evidence of the fact that she had dealt death and injury to so many. She was hardly damaged on the outside. This afternoon she was towed to Providence.

Flowers to the sufferers in the hospital were sent by the Misses Mason, Mrs. George Peabody Wetmore, Mrs. Howard Spencer Graham, Mrs. Wortham James, former Governor R, Livingston Beckman and Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton Fish Webster. Mrs. Webster, accompanied by Miss Dyer, personally took her flowers to the hospital. The estate of Arthur Curtiss James, though Mr. and Mrs. James are abroad, and Mrs. John Nicholas Brown also sent flowers.


BAQUAS, MIKE, 62 Cherry St., New York City
BERGERON, ELMIRA, 597½ Main St., Pawtucket
CALDWELL, ANNA, 12 Darlingdale St., Pawtucket
DAVIGNON or DAVIGNE, ORA, 173 McGill St., Pawtucket
BOURKE, IRENE, Pawtucket
DONDAREFF, F. address unknown
DICKENSON, HENRY, 358 Weeden St., Pawtucket
GUYET, GLADYS, 17 Cliff St., Attleboro, Mass.
HOPKINSON, ERNEST, 36 Sharon Av., Pawtucket
HOPWOOD, WINIFRED, 44 Parker St., Central Falls
HUNTER, JOHN M., 360 Potter Av., Providence
JANSON, DELMA, 100 Beechwood Av., Pawtucket
JAURER, HELENAM, 100 Beechwood Av., Pawtucket
JELLISON, JOSEPH, 49 Healy or Hedley Av., Central Falls
LANDERS, CHARLOTTE, 21 Emery St., Pawtucket
LEVALLEY, JOSEPH, Ledyard St., Central Falls
MOFFATT, JOHN, 12 years, 240 York Av., Pawtucket
MORRIS, Mrs. ANNA, 99 Mossford Av., East Providence
MULVEY, DELORES, 112 Myrtle St., Pawtucket
McCARTHY, MILDRED, 126 Johnson St. Pawtucket
McCARTHY, JOHN, 126 Johnson St., Pawtucket
McCARTHY, Mrs. JAMES, 126 Johnson St., Pawtucket
McELROY, FRANCIS, 5, Pawtucket
McGUIRK, Mrs. P., 1 Masterson St., Pawtucket
O'NEAL, Mrs. JAMES, Central Falls, R. I.
PARTINGTON, ARTHUR, 172 York Av., Pawtucket
BRENNER, F. T. 25 Bluff St., Riverside
SMITH, WILLIAM F., 188 Coll Av., Pawtucket
SHEA, CELLA, Lonsdale, R. I.
VALADE, JOSEPHINE, 107 Sterry St., Pawtucket
WECKART, OLGA, 86 Benefit St., Providence
WHITAKER, ELMER, 12 Carnation St., Pawtucket

At Naval Hospital:

ALVARNAZ, Mrs. MARY, Attleboro, Mass.
ALVARNAZ, EVA, Attleboro, Mass.
BORSAY, PETER, Pawtucket
DICKINSON, MONICA, Central Falls, R. I.
HOLT, FRANCENA, Providence
McCARTHY, JEAN, Pawtucket
McCARTHY, JAMES J., Pawtucket
McGUIRK, Mrs. MARY, Pawtucket
MULLIN, GEORGE C., Pawtucket
O'CONNELL, Mrs. I. IF., Pawtucket
POWERS, SARAH, Central Falls

At Newport Hospital:

BACON, Mrs. SARAH, Pawtucket
BARRY, EARL, Pawtucket
BARRY, WALTER, Pawtucket
COOPER, LOUIS, Pawtucket
McDUFF, JAMES, Pawtucket
TROEGER, Mrs. EMILY, Attleboro, Mass.
TROEGER, VIRGINIA, Attleboro, Mass.

New York Times, New York, NY 20 Aug 1925

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