San Francisco, CA Ferryboat PERALTA Panic, Feb 1928
Many of the passengers on the boat, however, declared they were certain that the number swept overboard was greater than 20, and probably 30 or 40.
No bodies had yet been found in the bay by boats
which took up the search for victims at dawn.
It was pointed out, however, that the swift current flowing around Goat Island could carry bodies several miles from the scene during the night.
The most important investigation into the accident
was that started by the United States Steamboat
Inspection Service. The investigation was called at 9 a.m.
The state railroad commission also started an inquiry.
Separate investigations were being conducted by the police departments of San Francisco and Oakland, the coroners of San Francisco and Alameda counties, and the United States Shipping Board.
Key System officials clamped down a rigid censorship after the accident and refused to permit any members of the crew of the Peralta
to discuss the accident until their testimony is given at the inquiries.
It was admitted that 20 persons or more had phoned to the offices of the Key System to ask about persons, persumably on the boat, who had failed to reach home.
But the company refuse to give out the names of those for whom inquires had been made.
All members of the crew, all responsible officials of the Key System and a number of passengers were ordered to appear before the United States Steamboat Inspection hearing.
J. K. Bulger, chief inspector of bulls and boilers, said early reports indicated the accident was caused by a freak tide and other conditions beyond the control of the crew.
From some of the passengers came the complaint that the boat was improperly handled and that precious time was lost in starting rescue attempts after the passengers had been washed overboard.
The opinion that a number of persons drowned was held by Lieut. L. Pengelly, in charge of the San Francisco police boat which arrived at the scene a few minutes after the accident.
"The current was so swift that even the strongest swimmer could not keep afloat more than five or ten minutes," Lieut. Pengelly said.
The Peralta was carrying its heaviest load of the day when it shipped the wave. It left the Ferry Building at 5:15 p.m. and was just past Goat Island.
Hundreds of the passengers were crowding to the bow, ready to run up the apron and get seats in the trains waiting at the mole.
Suddenly the fore part of the boat began to sink in the water. A huge wave swept in on the vessel and water poured over the lower deck and into the enclosed sections.
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