Syracuse, NY Split Rock Explosion, Jul 1918
"I went in and turned it on about three-quarters, but the smoke was so dense I had to come out. Others were playing water on the fire, but we are (next line unreadable) we went up on the hill where a freight car stood."
"This car was loaded with acid and with about twenty or thirty others we pushed it down the track for we thought it might explode."
"There were five or six around me when the explosion came. I was thrown flat on my face and was unconscious. Later I couldn't see anything."
"But when I came to I found that my friends were lying all about but that only my back and shoulders were hurt. I reached down to pick up my hat and discovered that my coat and my trousers had been blown off."
"Instead of my own hat I picked up a patrolman's hat. Putting my hands over my head I ran to the hill, then I could begin to hear things. And it looked like a war picture with the smoke and flames and everything."
"I heard FRANK WALSH, our head foreman, crying for help. I found WELSH and took him a few feet and turned him over to ROSS WILSON."
"Then I went on and met DAVE HALL and five others. They were shouting: 'For God's sake come and help us.'"
"Several men were trying to life Patrolman YAEGER, whose leg was torn off. Hi is a big man and hard to lift. He was asking to be taken to a hospital quick."
"We got an ax from a police house, cut a hole in the fence and got him through. A small automobile was waiting outside and that took him to a hospital. DAVE HALL and I went to a porch and rested for an hour, it seemed. When a man - I think he said he was DR. LeBAIN - carried me home. I don't understand how I escaped."
FRANTIC RELATIVES THRONG MORGUE TO VIEW BODIES
Hysterical Woman Seek Husbands and Sons Not Heard From Since Last Night and Shrieks Mark Each Positive Identification - Curiosity Seekers Are Barred Admittance.
Scenes at the County Morgue baffled description. The lobbies and private offices were filled with hysterical woman whose relatives had been missing since last night. Each positive identification of a body lying behind closed doors brought shrieks from one or more of the waiting women whose worse fears had been confirmed.
Yet the agony was even more frightful for those who had to wait through the hours not knowing whether or not the bodies of husbands, brothers, and fathers had been brought from the wrecked plant. Coroner Crane and his assistants did everything in their power to render the task of identification easy and to soften the blow when it came.
BAR CURIOSITY SEEKERS
There was the usual crowd of morbid sensation seekers. These the police held firmly in check and they got no further than the front door. Those who could prove that they had relatives who worked at the Rock were permitted, in groups of four or five, to view the bodies.
Of the forty-seven bodies which had been brought to the morgue at noon only sixteen had been identified. Coroner Crane at this time declared that it is doubtful if the others will ever be known, so frightfully are they disfigured. One of these, the wearer of a big ruby ring, may be made known before night through this bit of jewelry.
In the course of the morning hundreds of telephone calls from families whose workers have not returned to the city since they left for work on the night shift were received and registered. Among these were THOMAS GRAY of Furman street, CHARLES MORRIS, EDWARD MORRIS, CHARLES FINGERLAND, MILFORD MOORE, CHARLES WOOD, OTTO BLEICH, FRANCIS KEEFE, CLARENCE MUNDY, JOHN WESTMAN, and men by the names of EASTMAN, SILVERSTEIN, SPOORE, HALL and RYAN.
In several cases identification was made by means of the numbered tags worn by all employees, but in most cases those identification "disks" were missing, and relatives were forced to take birthmarks, scars and general descriptions as a guide.
The search for lost relatives steeled many women for the ordeal of viewing the bodies. There were one or two cases of collapse, but that was all.
The failure of some men to return home after the accident brought many people to the morgue. Some of them failed to notify their families of their safety and this gave rise to frantic endeavors on the part of women to get in touch with Split Rock, to discover if the men were still working.
"My husband didn't come home last night. May I see the bodies? Is he here?" was the general question.
Relatives of those who had been absolutely identified sought to take the bodies away at once, but this was denied by Coroner Crane.
"This afternoon," he said, "we may let some of them go out, but until we are positive that we can't identify any more they should not be removed. The removal of any bodies at this time would give erroneous ideas to some people that there had been a mistake and that perhaps after all their own husbands or brothers had been brought here and removed."
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