SHOCKING BOATING ACCIDENT.
GREAT LOSS OF LIFE
MANY STILL MISSING.
NARRATIVES OF SURVIVORS.
THE INQUEST LATEST PARTICULARS.
The greatest. consternation was occasioned in our midst on Friday afternoon by the circulationof a report that the pleasure yacht Monarch (belonging to Mr. John Rumson, grocer). and which during, the past five years has conveyed thousandsof persons on pleasure trips without a solitary accident having happened---had capsized whilst out on a two hours trip, and that as a consequence a large number of persons had lost their lives.
The yacht left with a party on one of her usual trips from the Pier early in the afternoon and proceeded westwards. The weather which up to that: time had been exceedingly fine broke up on that day, heavy and threatening rain clouds portending squally weather. At about the time the accident occurred- the breeze from S.S.W freshened, accompanied by showers of rain. It seems that there were from two-and-twenty to six-and-twenty souls on board the boat including the two boatmen, one named Rumson in charge, and the other C. Buckingham, both experienced and steady sailors. At about the time named, the Monarch was observed from the Torrs Walks and by persons on the Tunnel Beaches, to suddenly go down, for no apparent cause as the sea was smooth and the wind though fresh was not by any means boisterous.
The alarm was at ones given and other boats which were in the. vicinity immediately repaired to the scene of the disaster, and succeeded in rescuing some of those who were struggling in the water. The scene on the Pier was one of intense and sorrowful excitement as the hurrying crowds wended their way thither to meet the boats bringing the survivors, and alas, inanimate forms that seemed beyond all hope of recovery. These latter were conveyed at once to the nearest inns on the Quay, and plenty of medical assistance was soon at hand.
It is reported that the accident was caused in the first instance by the boat-hook having fallen overboard, and that the boat was "jibed" in order to recover it. This caused the Monarch to heel suddenly over, throwing a number of the passengers violently to leeward causing the boat to capsize and fill with water. From an eye witness who saw the accident she then appeared to right herself and then go down stern foremost.
According to the latest information the first to give the alarm of the disaster was the Rev. John Walters; a clergyman who is staying at Ingledale Villa. At the time he was seated on a rock at the Tunnels, and as he was about to open his umbrella in view of the coming shower his attention was attracted to the yacht. He at once shouted to Messrs. Price, jun., and Gregory, both of. whom were engaged as attendants in the Tunnel's Beach, where bathing was being indulged in by large numbers of persons. Mr. Price at once warned his father of what had occurred, and all three got into the boat which is always kept there in view of an emergency, and rowed as fast as possible to where the yacht sank. There they picked up a lady and four gentlemen. Three of these were able to be. driven to their lodgings as soon as they were landed, carriages having been got in readiness for them. Two of them, however, were apparently lifeless, and medical assistance having been summoned, Dr. J. T. Gardner, Dr. Best, Dr. Copner, and two visiting medical gentlemen, one being Surgeon-General Corbyn, of Cheltenham, quickly attended at the Tunnels, and did all that lay in their power to render professional assistance both here and on the Quay,where several other persons were being landed with all possible speed. For a considerable time every effort was used to restore animation in the case of the two passengers at the Tunnels, but without success. The first case to be given up as hopeless was that of the gentleman who was stated to be a Mr. Wareham. J.P., of London,and who was visiting at Castle House, whilst some time afterwards the life of the lady who was identified as a Miss Ash, staying at Mrs. Popham's Coffee Palace, was pronounced to be extinct. The two bodies were thereupon conveyed to the private baths, and there deposited.
Too much praise cannot be bestowed upon Mr. and Mrs. Price, as well as their son and assistant, for the promptness with which they acted, and the rapidity with which Mrs. Price had summoned medical men, and got several requisite articles in readiness, is highly commendable. A subscription list has been opened at the Tunnels to in some measure compensate the Prices for their pains, and a goodly sum is being raised amongst bathers.
The efforts which the medical gentlemen wrought with a view to restoring animation are highly eulogised by all who were present, and naturally the sad event attracted a large crowd of people of all classes here, as on the Quay. Lieut. Acland, R -N. and the Coastguardmen stationed at Ilfracombe. as well as a number of private residents were ever ready to render any assistance in their power, whilst the police with P.S. Hobbs, on the Quay, and P.C. Stentiford, at the Tunnels did good service in endeavouring to keep an open space around the spot where efforts were being made to restore animation.
On the Pier and Quay the scene when the passengers were being brought ashore was one of great excitement, and the emotions which both visitors and residents displayed on becoming aware of the probable (and in at least one case certain) fate of their relatives or friends was exceedingly painful to witness. Of course, considerable difficulty was experienced in keeping the crowds back from the landing stage and in this respect Mr. R. A. De Lasaux of Belmore Hall, Herne Bay rendered valuable aid to P.C.. Sharland who was stationed at this point. Several passengers were landed in a comparatively safe condition, and these, obtaining cabs and other conveyances, drove to their places of abode with all speed to change their apparel.
Amongst the first to be landed was Captain William Rumson, who with Charles Buckingham was in charge of the boat. Rumson was taken home, and on being interviewed by his brother, Mr. John Rumson (owner of the yacht) he, as far as he was able, gave an account of the affair. He says to the best of his belief there were on board twentyone passengers, besides himself and Charles Buckingham, the two latter being in charge of the boat. All went' well until the Tunnels had been passed, and some of the party had been singing on the way down. About twenty minutes after they had left the Harbour, the boathook staff fell overboard, and the party agreed to turn about and endeavour to recover it. Whilst they were in the act of "jibeing " her, a sudden squall fell into her, and she turned' over to leewards. Charles Buckingham held on to Rumson for some time, resting on the latter's shoulder, but at length Buckingham's strength failed him and he was obliged to release his hold, whereupon the poor fellow sank and was no more seen. He leaves a widow and a large family. Buckingham, we ,may mention, was formerly a man-o'-warsman, and took part in the Crimean ,War. He possessed a number of medals for active service, and (we believe) for saving life from drowning.