Thursday, July 21, 2011

Dig Out Second Body in Equitable Ruins,

January 15, 1912, New York Times, "Dig Out Second Body in Equitable Ruins,"

[See also: Walls of Equitable Yield Another Body, January 15, 1912, New-York Daily Tribune, "WALLS OF EQUITABLE YIELD ANOTHER BODY," page 1, Column 1,

-William Campian's Hand Frozen Upon the Iron Bar He Clasped as He Was Killed. -


William Campion's Hand Frozen Upon the Iron Bar He Clasped as He Was Killed.


Many Thousands Visit the Ruins---Little Danger Now of Falling Walls---Remove More Records.

The body of William Campion, special watchman for the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company, was removed yesterday afternoon from the ruins of the Equitable Building under circumstances even more dangerous than attended the extrication of Chief Walsh's body on Saturday. Although the body was buried only a few feet from one of the Broadway windows, it nevertheless required eight hours of chopping, sawing, and smelting to remove it.

There had never been any doubt as to the exact location of Campion's body. His were those ghasley white hands which had been plainly seen stretching appealingly for help on the afternoon of the first day of the fire. They were seen from the steel-grated window from which William Giblin, President of the Mercantile Safe Deposit Company, had been rescued. Some said that the hands had grasped the steel bars of the window. Others said that they had been within a foot of the bars. It was not until yesterday that it was positively determined that one of the hands was in fact grasping the only obstacle to safety when death came.

When night of the first day came the hands were already buried from sight by a foot of ice. In the days that followed the ice grew to the thickness of fifteen feet, so that it became impossible even to see the window behind which the body had been last seen.

Just how Campion reached this spot is probematical. Mr. Giblin, after his rescue, said that a watchman had gone into the building with him, but he did not know his name. Chaplain McGean, who led the rescuers of Mr. Giblin, said he was sure that he had seen a man near where Mr. Giblin was imprisoned by the wreckage. Father McGean said that the place where the other man was lying was fully twenty feet from the Broadway windows. He also said that the man did not move and appeared to be dead.

The finding of Campion's body near the window makes it appear now that this man, whom Father McGean believed to be dead, by an almost superhuman effort had raised himself from his pitfall and rushed to the window from which Mr. Giblin had been taken; that he had just reached the window and grasped one of the steel bars when the crash from above ended his life.

Workingmen, beginning at 8 o'clock in the morning, had first thawed and picked away the fifteen feet of solid ice around the window. Then, with saws and gas smelters, they cut out three steel bars adjoining the two bars which had been cut and bent to effect Mr. Giblin's rescue, and this opening sufficed to begin operations with picks and smelters from within.

Workers' Lives in Danger.

A tunnel was bored through the solid ice while overhead hung suspended tons and tons of wreckage, the opening being too small to allow for proper shoring. Had this wreckage loosened, several lives undoubtedly would have been lost. Gradually the body of Campion was exposed.

The dead man was facing Broadway. He was in a crouching position, but his feet were resting squarely on the ground floor. His left hand grasped the bar. His right hand was frozen over his face, as if to shut from sight the ironical safety which lurked only a foot away. He was dressed in the regulation watchman's uniform, but his cap was missing. A brass shield, the positive assurance that he was killed in the pursuit of his duty, was still pinned over his breast. The shield led to his identification, for the face was somewhat marred and the features badly distorted; for a twelve-inch steel beam lay on top of the head. Dr. Lehane, Coroner's physician, said that death must have been instantaneous.

There were no relatives nor even friends there to mourn. The body was silently removed in a patrol wagon, while heads were uncovered, and taken to the Old Slip Police Station.

The curious had been driven from the scene by the police. Traffic had been entirely suspended for an hour out of respect to the dead man. Only at one point could the crowd overrule these proprieties. And that was in Old Trinity churchyard, just over the way. The police had no authority there, and thousands, without hindrance, crowded into the small cemetery and trampled the graves for standing room. Trinity churchyard, in fact, had not been so faithfully visited for many Sabbaths.

Digging for other bodies which remain in the ruins will not be continued until the walls of the building have been razed. John O'Connor, Supervising Inspector of Buildings, said yesterday that the tearing down process will be begun to-day.

"There is little danger of the outer walls falling," he said. "If warm weather should set in, the ice would no doubt fall in great cakes and endanger traffic, and this will be provided for. The inner walls may give way when the thaw comes, and we will have them torn down first, of course. We will begin with the inner walls above the fourth floor, which border on the open court in the centre. That ought to be finished by tomorrow night. This will be done by means of cables, fastened to the south wall, for instance, and extending through windows to the north side of the building, where the tugging will be done with machinery."

David B. Canavan, in charge of the wrecking work, said that he had 350 men working inside the building. He said that the third, fourth, and fifth floors had been shored from the inside to prevent the falling of the interior walls and partitions. All of the debris from the upper floors is thrown into the open space in the centre of the building, and taken out in wheelbarrows through the Pine Street entrance.

Detectives Guard Vaults.

"There is no danger of any of my gang of men helping themselves to the contents of the Equitable Life's or Mercantile Safe Deposit Company's vaults," Mr. Canavan saids. "It will take a week or more to get to those vaults. There are detecties inside and outside the building by the score to prevent any such thing, but there isn't much chance for a robbery. When we get to the vaults it will take a month longer to get the whole buillding torn down. It's dangerous work, all right. It isn't the outer walls that are dangerous, it's the inside walls, and that's why we want to get them out of the way before the thaw comes, if possible."

Yesterday was one of the noisiest Sundays in the financial section for many a year. Pine Street was one chain of moving vans and express wagons, for it was moving day for the Equitable Building tenants.

Seven immense van loads of records, consisting of more than 100,000 life insurance policies deposited as collateral for loans aggregating about $300,000,000. were removed from the Equitable Life Assurance Society on the second floor of the building, facing Pine Street. A smooth chute was constructed and the hundreds of boxes of records were permitted to slide down this into the vans below. The records were taken to the company's new quarters in the City Investing building, at 165 Broadway. W.B. Bremmer, assistant Treasurer of the Equitable, superintended the moving.

An oil painting of William C. Alexander, first President of the Equitable, was found ruined by water in President Day's private office. Near it hung a picture of H.H. Hyde, the father of Henry B. Hyde and the grandfather of James Hazen Hyde, also a total wreck. A picture of Henry B. Hyde hung untouched between these two pictures.

Frederick W. Fulle, Vice President of the Equitable Trust Company, was superintending the transfer of records of his company, also by the chute method. Everything had been found intact, he said. August Belmont & Co. and Mercantile Branch of the Bankers' Trust, also moved records. These, as well as the Equitable Trust, had moved their securities shortly after the fire, but had waited until assured that the building was temporarily safe from collapse before moving the bulkier records.

All around the burned building there appeared placards yesterday, announcing the changes in location of the various business concerns, and assuring the public that business was going on just as if there had been no fire at all. In some cases firemen, busy chopping frozen lines of hose from windows on the upper floors, accommodated the former tenants by placing placards in the most conspicuous places.
[Just like the missing persons' fliers that blanked Manhattan after September 11th!]

Great Crowds Visit the Ruins.

At 5 o'clock everyone was ordered outside the building by the Building Department Inspector in charge. Even the detectives whose duty it is to watch the vaults in the ruins had to come outside. It was said that all work would be discontinued until early to-day, when the work of tearing down the inner walls will begin.

Hundreds of thousands of persons went downtown to witness the spectacular ice formations on and near the Equitable Building yesterday. Capt. Hogan of the Old Slip Police Station was in charge of the police, and said he had never seen so many women in his life at one time.

Late last night William Campian's body was formally identified by a son-in-law. Coroner Hellenstein then gave permission for its removal from the Police Station to his home, at 94 Second Avenue, Brooklyn.


Postponed Tribute to Fire Fighter Will Be Given on Jan. 30.

Fire Chief Kenlon is to be the guest of honor at a dinner at the Hotel Astor on Tuesday night, Jan. 30, given by a host of men who are one in their liking for the new Chief. Ex-Chief Edward Croker is among those, and conspicuous in their number are the group of Deputy Chiefs from whose ranks Kenlon rose last Summer and who were his competitors for the place. The dinner is to mark his succession to the post that Croker held so long, and Croker held it so very long that few remember any such dinner having been given before.

It was first set for a night in December, but as the time approached Chief Kenlon was too worried over the sickness of his young son to care for celebration. The dinner was postponed, and now the boy is well again.

About 350 persons have accepted invitations, and among those who will sit at the speakers' table are Mayor Gaynor, Police Commissioner Waldo, and Fire Commissioner Johnson. The lists of guests includes several Justices of the Supreme Court.

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