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At 11-30 Saturday morning the crowd began to collect at the boat house to see the scratch races. By 11-50 both the upper and the lower balconies of the boat house were crowded two or three deep along the edge, and a few were on the roof. The number on the balconies was greater than usual, as the crowd left the floats on account of the rain. At about 11-55, just as the four crews were drawing into line for the start at the lower bridge, the lower balcony suddenly gave away, at a point near the centre, the part nearest the river going first. Those on the edge jumped into the water, while some near the doors ran back into the building and others ran down the platforms leading to the floats. almost at the same moment the upper balcony came down. As this gave way neat the centre, all those crowded along the edge were thrown into a mass in the centre, like water thrown into a trough while those at the back of the balcony clung to the building. The trough was tilted, and this tangled mass of humanity was "dumped" into the water, on the heads of those who jumped from the lower balcony. For a moment there was a confused struggle, a mass of legs, arms, heads, beams, and umbrellas on the surface of the water. But almost instantly those who were unhurt rushed to raise the platform of the upper balcony, and free those who were caught between the two platforms It took some, thirty men to lift the upper platform, and carry the injured into the boat house. Among the hats, umbrellas, and textbooks, which went floating off with the current, came the four crews, rowing with all their strength. They ran their boats on shore, and rushed out to be of any possible help. There was no confusion, however, after the first few moments. The students, as a whole, acied with remarkable coolness and presence of mind. Doctors and carriages were down in a few moments, and the victims of the accident were tenderly carried to their rooms.
The following men were more or less hurt:
F. S. Mead, '87, of Boston, was standing on the lower platform. The platform falling from above struck him over the eye and slipped down to his chest, and then struck his knee breaking his leg and straining his ankle. Although his injuries were quite serious, he has been removed to his home in Boston, and seems to be doing well.
C. F. Hardwick, '84, of Quincy, was badly hurt in the chest, and has been suffering from internal hemorrhages. He has been taken home and is very much better.
E. H. Allen '87, had his arm broken above the elbow.
The men who were less seriously injured:
H. R. Curtis, '85, of Boston, was struck in the back and slightly bruised.
C. S. Hamlin, '83, of Roxbury was knocked senseless, but is not badly hurt beyond a bruise on the head.
J. A. White, '84, of Williamsport, Pa., was hurt in the back, but did not receive any serious injuries.
G. A. Stewart, '84, of South Boston, received a severe blow on the he
The cause of the accident seems to be very plain. The whole affair is due to the careless construction of the platform. The upper platform was supported by pillars running from the platform below which in turn rested on a transverse beam. This beam rested on the top of a strong pile, which was driven into the soft, muddy bottom of the river. In the first place the pile upon which the whole structure rested was never driven in until it struck a solid foundation, but was merely inserted in holes dug in the mud for the purpose. Upon this pile rested a transverse beam, from which the pillars reached to the upper platform. A short distance to the west this beam was spliced. The main pillar which supported the weight above was not a continuous piece of timber, but was patched at the lower part with a smaller piece which was let a short distance into the transverse beam. At this same point was inserted a plank running at right angles to the pile and the main beam and extending back to the boat house. With all these holes and patches the spot was naturally a very weak one. Of course under ordinary circumstances the structure could support the weight it had to sustain, but on this occasion the crowd of a hundred or more directly above it proved too much for it and it gave away. These conditions and several theories of the direct cause of the accident present themselves. In the first place the gradual sinking of the pile into the soft mud may have left the whole weight of the balconies resting on this spliced and patched sleeper. Of course when the unusual strain came the structure gave way at its weakest point. On the other hand, it is possible that the pile remained in its original position and that the tremendous weight bearing on a point cut by several holes simply crushed the rotten wood, letting down the upper balcony first, which stricking the lower balcony tore it from its place. However as sufficient time has not yet elapsed for a thorough examination of the premises the exact cause cannot be definitely fixed. The pieces of broken timber have been carefully preserved and will be subjected to a strict examination by the proper authorities.
The boat house belonged to the college authorities and was rented by them to the boat club. Originally, it must be remembered, the various halls such as Matthews and Weld, supported boat crews and the boat houses were owned by them. In time these organizations became very much in debt. The college offered to take up the debt, and accepted the boat house as payment. The rental paid by the boat club was merely six per cent, interest on the amount of the old debt assumed by the college. This interest amounted to about four hundred and eighty dollars a year. All repairs were made by the college who took entire charge of the boat houses. The whole structure is built in the most wretched fashion, having been repaired time and again in a most careless manner with old and worthless lumber. That the accident must have occurred sooner or later, there seems to be no doubt, and that it did not happen at high tide, and was not attended with much more unpleasant circumstances is cause for congratulations to the entire college.
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