Victoria, BC Traffic Bridge Collapses, May 1896

Point Ellice Bridge Accident British Columbia.jpg



Victoria, B. C., May 26. -- A defective span in the Governor Street traffic bridge across Victoria Arm, gave way this afternoon, precipitating a loaded street car and several private carriages into the bay, 100 feet below.
The number of victims cannot be estimated at this time. The bridge was crowded with vehicles containing pleasure seekers bound for Macauley's Point, where the Queen's Birthday celebration sports were in progress.
The bodies of the following have been recovered and identified:
MRS. FRED ADAMS, Victoria.
FREDERICK ADAMS, son of above.
E. B. CARMICHAEL, and wife, Victoria.
J. B. GORDON, Vancouver.
J. EDMONDS, Victoria.
MISS NATHAM, Victoria.
J. ROSSI, Victoria.
Infant Son of Superintendent J. WILSON of the Canadian Pacific Railway Telegraph Company, Vancouver.
M. W. VANBOEKLYN, Port Townsend.
Capt. LEVERIDGE, Victoria.
MRS. G. I. POST, Victoria.
MRS. LOUT, Seattle.
A number of unidentified bodies have been recovered and more are being brought to the surface hourly.
Sixty-two bodies have been recovered up to 11 o'clock.
A sham fight and naval review was scheduled to take place at Macauley's Point, near Esquimalt, this evening, and crowds were making their way there by every route. All the tram cars were packed with visitors.
A large and heavily laden car left Government Street at 2 o'clock, having upward of 100 people on board. When the middle span of the traffic bridge, about 150 feet in length, was reached, it collapsed, throwing the car and a number of carriages and foot passengers into the water.
The car was submerged completely and all save a few who were on the platforms and roof were drowned.
A number were killed by falling timbers. A few escaped by climbing to the floating ruins of the bridge.
The number of carriages lost and the foot passengers carried down in the wreck cannot be learned.
It is believed by many that fully 200 persons went down with the span, and that more than half of them perished. The accident occurred so quickly that nobody has a clear recollection of what transpired.
Superintendent J. WILSON was driving a carriage containing his wife and five children directly behind the car. His vehicle was swept down, and in a moment the entire party and team were struggling in the water.
MR. WILSON succeeded in saving his wife and four of the children. The fifth child, a little boy, was wedged beneath some wreckage and drowned.
A number of bodies have been carried out of the harbor by the outgoing tide, which runs at not less than seven knots an hour at the point where the accident occurred.
Owing to the fact that nearly every kind of craft in the city was engaged for the day, boats were hard to procure, and the work of rescue was somewhat slow. Steam and naphtha launches were hurried to the scene, and in this particular the boats of the various warships were the most active.
Scores of persons who were floundering in the water or clinging to debris were picked up and taken to places of safety, but many sand before the eyes of rescuers.

The New York Times New York 1896-05-27

List Of Fatalities
Taken From "The Daily Colonist" Victoria, British Columbia
Wednesday, May 27, 1896

MRS. J. A. TROUT, of Seattle, was identified by her husband almost as soon as her body reached the Market hall. The husband was with her on the car and escaped he scarcely knows how.
SOPHIE and ALICE SMITH, of Victoria, daughters of Captain SMITH, formerly of the tug Mogul, were going with their sister INES to the parade grounds, INES SMITH, being unable to find a seat in the crowded car. She stood on the rear platform and so was able to strike clear of the debris and struggling crowd and swim ashore. Her two sisters were both drowned.
JAMES THOMPSON PATTERSON, a shipper employed at the Albion Iron Works, 52 years of age, and leaving a wife and three children, was identified by his brother.
MISS GRACE ELFORD, about 17 years old, a daughter of D. ELFORD of this city was identified early last evening first of all by MR. WILLIAM MUNSIE who had known her intimately.
MRS. FRED ADAMS, SR., relict of the late contractor F. ADAMS who lost his life in the wreck of the ill-fated Velos, was drowned with her son, FRED, the latter leaving a widow but no children.
MRS. WILLIAM HEATHERBELL, of South Road, Spring Ridge, was sitting with her husband about the centre of the car. MR. HEATHERBELL had a miraculous escape, receiving few injuries. His wife was drowned.
MRS. G. H. WOODHOUSE, of Seattle, was pinioned in the shattered car and had no chance for her life. She was a bride of but four months.
MRS. S. I. BALLARD, of Providence, R. I., was spending the celebration days with friends in Victoria by whom she was identified soon after the body reached the improvised morgue.
WILLIAM VAN BOKKELIN, of Port Townsend, for some time a well known custom house officer of Puget Sound -- a married man.
J. K. LEVERIDGE, grocer, of Spring Ridge. He was on his way to the military spectacle accompanied by his step-daughter NELLIE PRESTON, the latter of whom was taken from the water before life was extinct and resuscitated.
GABRIELLE MAROTTA, of Seattle, positively identified by acquaintances.
GUISEPPI MAURO, also of Seattle, and well known in this city.
MRS. THOMAS PHYSICK, wife of a C.P.R. boiler maker, residing at 812 Richards Street, Vancouver, leaves two children.
MISS EMILY NATHAN, of Victoria, identified by her father last evening.
MR. and MRS. SIMON PEARSON, of North Park Street, this city, leave three children, the eldest of them a boy of 9 years.
MR. JAMES, no other particulars obtainable.
MRS. P. ELFORD, of Shawnigan Lake.
B. W. MURRAY, a son of Foreman MURRAY of the city waterworks.
W. J. CROWELL'S little son, 10 years old or thereabouts, whose parents reside in Spring Ridge.
MRS. PRIESTLEY, of Minneapolis, identified by papers found on the body.
MARATTA, an Italian harpist from Seattle, identified by MR. R. J. DODDS of the Sound city.
MRS. D. R. PRESTON, a resident of Seattle, leaves two children, she was identified by her sister, MISS EVELYN FARRELLY.
MRS. EDWARD HOOSEN, wife of Nightwatchman HOOSEN, of this city.
CLARENCE HOOSEN, their son, aged about five or six years.
JAMES WILSON, five years old, the son of street inspector WILSON.
EMMA OLSEN, of 73 Frederick street, twenty years of age, has no relatives so far as known in this city or province.
MISS LESTER, no other particulars obtainable.
MISS ANN KEAST, daughter of deputy registrar KEAST. Her mother was resuscitated with extreme difficulty.
J. B. GORDON, manager of Bradstreet's commercial agency at Vancouver, for some time a resident of Victoria.
MR. and MRS. E. B. CARMICHAEL, of Menzies street, for many years residents of Victoria, they leave two in family. Their daughter, with her escort, was intending to take the car with her parents, but found it too crowded, and they were forced to take the one in advance, by which they escaped.
GEORGE FARR, conductor, leaves a widow and two children.
HARRY TALBOT, the conductor in charge of No. 16 at the time of its awful plunge. He leaves a wife.
MISS SLOAN, of Seattle, was accompanying MR. and MRS. TROUT and their party, and was drowned with the majority of the little circle of holiday makers.
BOSSI, storekeeper of Store street.
J. H. TYACK, a blacksmith's helper residing on Humboldt Street, his body was at first mistaken for that of his cousin JIMMIE LAURIE, whose brother was drowned only a couple of months ago. LAURIE is safe.
Two Children, ARCHIE and JULIA, son and daughter of G. W. BIGGAR of this city, who himself narrowly escaped.
EDMONDS, of Pembroke street.
W. ARTHUR FULLERTON, son of W. F. FULLERTON, of Clarke and North Pembroke streets.
MRS. G. I. POST and her Son, of 153 Fernwood road.
FRANK GRESTA, bookblack, of Yates street.
MISS MINNIE ROBERTSON, daughter of ex-Aid W. A. ROBERTSON, who with his son was also a passenger on No. 16 and who escaped with some bad cuts and serious bruises.
The MISSES BOWNESS, Two women.