Atlantic City, NJ Floor Collapse, July 1895
CAUGHT IN THE CRASH.
OVER A HUNDRED ELKS MORE OR LESS SERIUOSLY INJURED.
COLLAPSE OF A BUILDING.
ONE THOUSAND PERSONS THROWN TO THE FLOOR BENEATH, CRUSHING FULLY TWO HUNDRED PEOPLE ASSEMBLED THERE -- NO ONE WAS KILLED OUTRIGHT BUT ONE MAN HAS SINCE DIED -- DETAILS OF THE DISASTER.
Atlantic City, July 11. -- The social session tendered by Atlantic City lodge to the visiting Elks at the Baltimore Avenue Casino last night ended in a terrible disaster in which fully 100 persons were more or less seriously injured. The session had just opened and only one of the speakers had been heard, when, without the slightest warning, the building, which had not been used for several years, collapsed, and fully 1,000 persons were thrown to the floor beneath.
Many women, the wives of the visiting Elks, went down in the ruins. Fully 200 persons, who were on the first floor of the building, and immediately beneath the banquet hall, were crushed beneath timbers and lay helpless. The fact that all the electric lights in the building went out at the time the building gave way, added to the terrible situation. A double alarm for the fire department was at once turned in and the city's fire force of 200 firemen and every police officer in the city were called to the scene as a hospital corps. The police ambulances and carriages of every description were utilized to convey the injured to the hospitals and to their hotels.
When the police and firemen arrived on the scene the excitement was so intense that they scarcely knew where to begin first. An immense crowd of people had been attracted to the place by the noise of the falling building and the groans of the unfortunates who were pinned beneath bricks and timbers. The streets for several blocks were choked. The air was fall of anxious inquiries for friends and relatives who were thought to have been in the building. Within a few minutes the police succeeded in clearing the space in the immediate neighborhood of the building and placed ropes around to keep the crowd back.
In the meantime the firemen had set to work to extricate the wounded from beneath the mass of timbers, and they were aided in their work by the hotel keepers and residents near the scene. Every house was thrown open for the reception of the injured, and every available conveyance was pressed into service to carry them to their hotels. Meanwhile physicians were on the scene, and were doing everything in their power to aid the unfortunates who had been caught in the crash. As quickly as the unconscious form of a victim was taken out of the ruins willing hands bore it to the nearest place, and everything that surgical skill could do to alleviate their sufferings was done.
The excitement amidst the assembled crowds was even greater than that in the immediate neighborhood of the building. All sorts of rumors were rife. It was first reported that the building had caught fire, and that in the consequent panic many lives had been crushed out. Then a rumor came that the entire edifice had collapsed. As it had been generally known, however, that the social session of the order had been in progress in the building, and that it would in all likelihood be the largest attended event of the convention, almost every new arrival upon the scene was almost frantic with grief and anxiety for some relative or friend. Their fears were to an extent quieted, however, when it was learned from a good source that no lives had been lost.
In the excitement of the disaster it was almost impossible to procure accurate details. The list of the injured can not be compiled, but the following are the more seriously injured:
JAMES J. ARMSTRONG, New York, both legs broken.
Mayor WOLFE, Atlantic City, lighhouse engineer, injured internally.
CHARLES W. TOLWELL, Camden, leg and arm broken.
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