Richmond, OH Deck Collapses on River Boat ISLAND QUEEN, Apr 1922

Island Queen about 1904

Accident On A River Boat

Third Deck Of An Excursion Craft Gives Way.

President Harding Scheduled to Have Been Aboard, but Transferred to Another Steamer-Three Injured.

Cincinnati, Ohio., April 27.-According to the Cincinnati police tonight, twenty-eight persons were injured in the collapse of the deck on the Island Queen, while on the voyage to Point Pleasant, Ohio.

By the Associated Press.

Point Pleasant, O., April 27.-President Harding’s adventure-a thirty mile voyage up the Ohio River today to participate in the one hundredth birthday anniversary of General Grant-narrowly escaped serious disaster when part of the third deck of the steamer Island Queen crashed to deck below carrying with it some 200 persons. Only half a minute’s warning by cracking timbers gave a school children’s band and many others on the deck below, time to get from under the crashing deck. Only three persons were injured.

That the president and Mrs. Harding and other distinguished personages in the presidential party were not aboard the Island Queen was due to advice of government inspectors late last night. They advised against the president making the trip on the old pleasure boat because of her condition. Consequently the president and his party were assigned to the Cayuga, a government boat which led the flotilla of seven steamers from Cincinnati bearing between ten and fifteen thousand people.

The injured were Wilbur Morgan, Manchester, O., cut about the head, not serious.

Richard Armstrong, Bethel, O., arm broken.

Lieutenant Eugene Wetherly of the Cincinnati police department, cut by glass.

They were on the second deck front immediately under the deck which fell.

President’s Boat at the Head.

The river flotilla was passing Richmond, O., seven miles below Point Pleasant. The Cayuga, with the president aboard, leading the procession, had cleared the village. New Richmond citizens, however, did not know of the change in plans which put the president aboard the Cayuga. They began firing rockets as the Island Queen, with its 3,000 passengers, came abreast. Those on board crowded to the front decks to witness the spectacle ashore.

Out of a clear sky there came the crashing and grating of timbers under the feet of the 300 on the third deck. They felt the floor sink. They stood silent, apparently awe-struck for half a minute. Then came a deafening crash. The entire front deck dropped. Still there was no panic.

Those who went down with the deck, remembered the Manchester, Ohio, school bays’ band had been playing immediately under them. There were fifty-two boys and girls, many boys in knee trousers. Were they killed? As the three hundred scrambled from the crushed deck, the one question on all lips was “are the band boys all killed?” The question was asked in whispers.

But the half minute’s warning saved the boys. At the first crash they began to scurry toward the stern. Some did not make it in time and were caught, but the chairs on which they had been seated, held the load for a second and that second was long enough to permit them to crawl to safety.

Thought Steamer Was Sinking.

The crash of the falling deck resounded from bow to stern. Many thought the steamer was sinking. Others thought the boilers had exploded. Women fainted and became hysterical. Children screamed and men, mostly, appeared awe-struck.

Officers of the boat shouted orders for people to remain in their places and keep quiet. Military officers and Cincinnati police, of whom there were many on board, also cautioned against becoming panic stricken.

The Eleventh division band was on the deck immediately above. They were playing a soft air, and, sensing the situation, the director immediately struck up a lively tune. The music drowned out the cries of the children and of hysterical women. It no doubt had great effect in preventing panic throughout the forward decks.

Officers immediately constructed dead lines on the second deck after getting all toward the stern and began to search the debris for any that might have been caught. In less than ten minutes they were able to assure the passengers that no one was caught under the fallen deck or had been killed.

The Island Queen was the fourth in the line of the flotilla President Harding did not learn of the accident until the Cayuga moored at the Point Pleasant landing. The Island Queen is a pleasure craft.

The Nebraska State Journal, Lincoln, NE 28 Apr 1922