Washington, DC Knickerbocker Theatre Roof Collapse - Appalling Disaster


Washington Theatre Collapses From Weight of Snow Bringing Death to 100 Persons.

The most appalling disaster of the New Year took place in Washington, D. C., Saturday evening when the Knickerbocker theatre was wrecked by the accumulation of snow on the roof of the building, and to the crash 108 persons were killed and many others seriously injured. Heart-rending details of the awful catastrophe as told by those who were fortunate enough to escape fills the whole country with awe and sorrow.

WILLIAM L. PETERS, of Plattsburgh, a student at the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, who served with the naval air service in France, narrowly escaped death in the disaster.

WILFRED BROSSEAU, of North Adams, Mass., who accompanied PETERS and was sitting next to him when the roof of the theatre came crashing down on the audience, died of injures. PETERS dropped to the floor when the crash came and found shelter under the seats. He suffered only superficial bruises.

"There was a lady in front of us," said PETERS, "and a man and his wife at our right. All were caught in the debris, the woman in front, like myself, falling to the floor. The others were shrieking and yelling and I begged them to stop and try to find a way out. I suggested to BROSSEAU that we pray for light, and we said several prayers. As if in immediate answer to our prayers I saw an opening lighted some little distance back. I had to crawl between the legs of people who were caught upright in the debris, but I finally reached the opening and was hauled out. We went back and dug into the debris at this point and succeeded in rescuing those who were near me, including BROSSEAU, whose injuries were so serious that he died soon after."

MISS VERONICA MURPHY, of Massena, a cousin of MRS. P. E. RYAN, of Cherubusco, was among those killed in the collapse of the building. She was an employe[sic] in the Income Tax Bureau of the Treasury Department. He brother, GEORGE A. MURPHY, of Buffalo, was notified and left immediately for Washington to bring the body to Massena, where the funeral will be held and burial made.

MISS MURPHY'S father did not hear of his daughter's death until informed by a telegram Sunday afternoon about 2. The message came from MISS MARGARET PETERSON, the girl's room-mate, saying that MISS MURPHY was in the theatre at the time of the crash and had not been accounted for. Press dispatches carried the name of the girl among the list of the dead.

MISS MURPHY was the second daughter of MR. MURPHY, whose wife died about five years ago. She was born in Massena and received her early education there, being graduated from the Massena High School. She attended the Potsdam Normal and was graduated and from there in 1913. For two years she taught in the Ogdensburg schools and one year in Connecticut. She went to Washington three years ago to engage in war work with the War Department. In 1920 she was transferred to the Income Tax Bureau, where she had since been employed.

She was well liked and had made many friends throughout Northern New York. She spent three months at home last summer on her vacation, that being the last time she was in Messina.

Surviving are her father, six brothers, JOSEPH J. MURPHY, of Chaumont, MICHAEL M. MURPHY, of Lisbon, GEORGE B. MURPHY, of Buffalo, JOHN P., CLARENCE T. and WILLIAM L. MURPHY, of Massena, and one sister, MISS GERTRUDE MURPHY, of Messina. JOHN P. MURPHY and MISS GERTRUDE MURPHY are employed in the Massena post office.

The Chateaugay Record New York 1922-02-08