San Francisco, CA Ferry Boat Collision, Nov 1901


Two Ferryboats Collide at San Francisco and One Goes Down.




Majority of the Passengers Rescued by Boat Which Caused the Disaster.

San Francisco, Cal., Nov. 30.----The ferry boats Sausalito and San Rafael collided tonight in a dense fog, and the San Rafael sank almost instantly. It is thought that not more than 20 persons were drowned, although the San Rafael carried between 150 and 200 passengers.

On Boat Not Badly Injured.

The Sausalito was not seriously injured, and, after rescuing all the passengers on the San Rafael that she could, she proceeded to San Francisco. The boats belonged to the San Francisco & North Pacific railroad and plied between San Francisco and Sausalito, a suburb across the bay.

Collision in a Fog.

The San Rafael left San Francisco at 6:15, and, Captain McKenzie, owing to the dense fog, sent the ship along under a slow bell. She was somewhere near Alcatraz island when the Sausalito, coming from Sausalito to San Francisco, crashed into her. There were but a few passengers on the Sausalito.

Rescuing the Passengers

When it was seen that the Sausalito was not badly injured she stood by the San Rafael, and the officers, crew and passengers engaged in the rescue of the passengers of the sinking vessel. Both ships were side-wheelers, and ordinarily carried 100 passengers. Fortunately, this being the winter season and the last trip there were not so many passengers as usual.

City Stirred by Disaster.

The news of the disaster did not reach the city until nearly 9 o'clock. There was intense excitement at the opera house, where an immense crowd was listening to Calve in "Carmen." Many people left the house and rushed to the newspaper offices to obtain information about friends and relatives.

Never had the fog been thicker in San Francisco and on the bay than tonight. It was a day and night of anxiety.

Several Disasters,

The steam schooner Arctic ran down the French bark Edmond Rostand early this morning, while the felly boats Encinal and Albatross came together in the fog. Many of the vessels had narraw[sic] escapes, and fog signals were blowing in all directions. The Arctic suffered considerably about the upper works and rigging, and the Rostand may have to be sent to the docks for overhauling.

Captain Last to Leave.

Captain McKenzie of the San Rafael was the last one to leave the ship. As she was going down he seized a rope flung to him from the Sausalito and was pulled on board. He thinks that most of the passengers were saved, as many jumped to the Sausalito and others went on the gang plank between the two ships to safety. A list of those lost will probably not be obtainable tonight.

Story of a Passenger.

James Moore, an employe[sic] of the Nevada bank, who was a passenger on the San Rafael, said:

"There was an attempt made to lower a boat on the San Rafael, but I don't believe many of the people got off in in[sic]. Mr. Tompkins of the Hong Kong Shanghai bank was with me and we agreed to put on life preservers and stay on the boat as long as we could. When the San Rafael went down, I jumped for the Sausalito, and caught on her rail. I was not strong enough to haul myself up, so I shouted for help. None of the crew heard me, and I finally let go my hold from sheer exhaustion and dropped into the water. Twenty minutes later I got hold of a rope lowered from the Sausalito and was pulled on board."

Loss of Life Exaggerated.

San Francisca[sic], Cal., Nov. 30.----At midnight it was impossible to obtain the names of any of the missing people, and it is believed that the estimates of the loss of life have been exaggerated. It is barely possible that nearly all the passengers will be accounted for eventually.

Captain McKenzie of San Rafael says nearly every one was rescued. He said: "I was the last to leave the sinking vessel, and there was no one on her when she went down."

Davenport Daily Republican, Davenport, IA 1 Dec 1901