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APPALLING DISASTER AT PWLLHELI.

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APPALLING DISASTER AT PWLLHELI. 'JLWULVE EXCUKSIONISTS DROWNED. A GALLANT RESCUE. The rising watering place of Pwllheli, hitherto singularly free from drowning fatalities, was the scene of a most appalling disaster onSaturday after- noon, twelve excursionists, three men, one woman, and eight children, being drowned through the capsizing of a boat in the sea about a mile from the shore. All the occupants of the boat except the boatman were drowned. An excursion consist. ing of about 750 persons, in connection with the Church Sunday School, arrived in the town from Drosybwlch, Llanberis, and district and the twelve victims formed part of the excursion. Arriving safely at Pwllheli about ten o'clock thp excursionists found the weather somewhat squ >lly with occasional showers of rain and for the most part distributed themselves about the town A number, however, found their way to the beach, amongst them being the twelve ili fate i persons, who entered a boat in charge of a young man, aged nineteen, named Robert Thomas, Embank- ment-road, Pwllheli. The occuiants of the boat were John Hughes, Clogwyn, Dinorwic, an over- looker at the Llanberis Quarry, aged 38, his three children, John R. Hughes, 12 years of age, Catherine Ann Hughes, 11 years of a't', and Nellie Hughes, 7 year< ,f age; Owen Thomas. Tyddyntawnog, aged 32, Ellen Thomas, hi-i wife, 27, ani tneir chil- dren, Nellie Thomas, aged 4, Owen Thomas, aged 3, and Willie Edwards, aged 6 (Mrs fnomas's son by her first husband); Thomas Hugus, Tmybwlch, Dinorwic, aged 13, and Richard Hughes, ag,d 15 (the two latter being brothers), and Charles Davie*, Bronclydir, aged 13. The thirteen persons named were all, with the exception of John Hughes, senior, sea! en at the stern of the boat, Robert Thomas, the boatman in charge, being the only one rowing He took his seat on the bow thwart and pulled straight out from the south beach parade to the open sea. A spectator states that at this time the bow of the boat was clear of the water while the stern lay deep. Pulling steadily, Robert Thoma3 had got about a mile from the shore when the wmd suddenly veered trom west to south, blowing with increased force straight for the shore. At this time, Thomas appears to have commenced the re- turn trip and, in doing so, of course brought his boat broadside on to the now pretty high wave. No mischief appears to have resulted from this, but as the boat gradually slewed round and presented its stein to the waves some of the latter broke into the boat. One of the children at once shouted to Hughes in the boat, Daddy, the water is coming into the boat." Hughes thereupon walked clumsily along the boat till he got to the oarsman, Thomas, and then, placing one hand on the latter's shoulder, vaulted clean over Thomas's oars into 'mid-ships and thence made his way to the stern of the boat, already nearly flush with the water. The additional weight of Hughes, together with the water which had been shipped (so much as to cover the shoes of those seated in the stern of the boat) proved too much and the stern at once sank into the water. Thomas, the boatman, in vain shouted to Hughes to keep his place when he first began to move and afterwards to the others to keep still. The inevitable panic set in the moment the stern sank and simultaneously rising, the occupants rushed to the side of the boat, which in a moment turned turtle, imprisoning thirteen souls beneath. By superhuman exertion, the boatman managed for a moment to right the boat and keep so till all were cleared from under it and then, pushing him- self clear, he got out of the hurly. burly for a moment and looked round him at the helpless dozen splashing frantically and screaming wildly close to him. He seized one of the victims—a three-year- old girl-and held her above water as long as his strength availed, but he was fully dressed and hampered besides by his heavy sea boots and, though a good swimmer, sank twice with his little burden before she slipped from his failing grasp and perished. On his outward journey, Robert Thomas passed another boat, in which two girl excursionists from the Danberis district, about eleven years of age, were being rowed by William Peters, a-commercial traveller residing at Gadan View. Peters has been familiar with boats and boating from his youth up and apparently occupies his leisure by actir-g as his father's assistant boatman and in this capacity, as events showed, he proved a master hand. One of his young lady fares, owing to the roughness of tha sea, having become sick. he was returning to bhe beach as Robert Thomas's heavily-laden boat passed him. He was then about three-quarters of a mile from shore. After proceeding about a hundred yards shorewards, he chanced to look round and, to his surprise, Thomas's boat was nowhere in eight. He at first supposed it was merely hidden by the rising waves, but suddenly he saw a sight which for a moment paralysed him, viz., a mass of men, women, and children struggling in the water, with the capsized boat floating close by. Quickly recovering himself, Peters stood up in his boat, waving aloft one of his oars as a signal to those on shore and screaming loudly. Then he pulled as fast as he could to the scene of the wreck, but now a new peril confronted him in the shape of the two girl passengers, who, already alarmed by the rising of the sea, became almost frantic at the sight of its disastrous effects on the occupants of the other boat, and were mov- ing wildly about the boat, in spite of Peters's command to keep still. Suddenly, he adopted a bold expedient to keep them quiet, and, swiftly reaching forward, he grasped them both by the legs and drew them off the seat towards himself, and then twisting his own legs round the girls' he so held them fast, and renewed his desperate efforts to reach the drowning excursionists from the other boat. He arrived too late to do more than pull peor Robert Thomas, on the point of drowning. into his boat. He saw four of the other bodies, but they were all apparently lifeless. The body of one woman came alongside his boat, but owing to the necessity of watching Thomas, who was almost mad with excitement and rushed at him several times, and the equal necessity of watching the two girls, who were almost equally excited by now, Peters could not get proper hold of the woman's body, which finally slipped under his boat. He then made a dive after her, but his legs were caught between the oars and the thwarts, and he was thus held for some time with his head under water. At last he managed to extricate himself from his terrible position and pulled slowly ashore, where he safely landed his two girl pas- sengers, and also Robert Thomas, whom he had rescued. He then prepared to start a second time for the scene of the disaster, but before starting out again he asked the scores of people now assembled on the beach if any of them would come with him, with what result shall be told in his own words in an interview granted by the young fellow to the pressmen assembled at Pwllheli on Sunday. Up to Sunday night only four of the bodies had been recovered and these were picked up almost immediately after the accident, which, as near as can be ascertained, occurred at one o'clock on Saturday afternoon. These were those of Mrs Thomas, Ellen Thomas (daughter), and W.Edwards (son), and Katie Hughes, daughter of John Hughes. These bodies were at once conveyed to an empty bouse close to the beach to await the inquest. All the hours of daylight on Saturday were spent by the boatmen and trawlers in the vicinity in search- ing for the other bodies, a quest which also occupied the greater part of Sunday. About one o'clock on Sunday the boats gathered in a circle at almost the exact spot where Saturday's ill-fated expedition started on its disastrous trip, as they supposed that one of the bodies had been seen tossing about beneath the rolling waves. But in spite of the keenest efforts the body, if body it was, eluded the grappling irons and the search was unsuccessful. Nevertheless, the search was re- newed and continued till darkness again put an enforced end to their labours. The disaster produced the most profound grief amongst the visitors and residents of Pwllheli. It is stated that three of the four bodies recovered showed signs of latent life when brought ashore, and in the case of Nellie Thomas there was great hope of a successful recovery, and Superintendent Jones and Drs. Samuel Griffith and Rees. Pwllheli, and Thomas, of Nevin, assiduously applied the treatment for the restoration of apparently drowned persons to all three of them, but in vain. Super- intendent Jones was unremitting in his efforts. Credit is due to Mr E. R. Davies, the town clerk of Pwllileli, for the minner in which he organised and stimulated the various search parties in their efforts to recover the remaining eight bodies, and also to the Rev James Salt who remained behind to look after the dpoeas-(I, and who met the sorrow- ing parents of Davies,Thomas, and R;chardlfughes, whose bodies are amongst the missing. It will be seen th. tin one case a father and three children were drowned, and in the other the whole of the family of Owen Thomas, Tyddynfawnog, perished. What makes the case of Hughes, Clogwyngwyn, sadder, is the fact that the wife was left at home ill. William Peters, when interviewed, gave a very clear and straightforward narrative of his share in the rescue of Thomas. He said he was a commer- cial traveller and often went out of Pwllheli in his father's boats. He went out on Saturday with two girls about eleven years of age, from Liinberis. It was then blowing from the south-west. Robert Thomas followed him in Captain Williams's boat. He thought Thomas's beat looked rather heavy, but wheu it came nearer he modified his views on that point. He went out for about three-quarters of an hour, when one of the girls became sick, and he turned back to t-ik-e them ashore. He happened to turn his head as he went and missed the other boat. Listening he heard seme shouting and "creaming and saw someone holding up his hand. It turned out to be Robert Thomas. He pulled to- wards him as hard as he could. He was then three hundred yards nearer the shore than Thomas. The girls became excited and frightened and wanted to jump out of the boat, so in order to save them he held them tight, practically in the bottom of the boat. He was then at liberty to resume his rowing. They reached Thomas at last and he picked him up over the bow. Thomas was very wild and excited and did not know what he was doing, so he (Peters) placed him under a seat and told the girls not to stir. The next thing he saw was a woman-Mrs Thomas—floating alongside. He tried to get hold of her, but Thomas and the girls were so excited that they went to one side of the boat which nearly capsized. The body of the woman then slipped under the boat and the sea came into the boat. He tried to dive in after her, but his legs got fast in the boat and his head was under water for some time. He could do no more, so he caught hold of the oars aga'n and pulled for the shore. He only noticed four bodies on the surface. About half-way to the beach he noticed his father in a boat and directed him to where Mrs Thomas's body was. After lauding the girls and Thomas, he ask^d the people there if any of them would come back with him. but no one answered. There were many people watching him, but no one offered t > help him with his burden. He saw on the surface besides the body two caps, four hats, one coat, md two oars. As to the cause of the disaster, his opinion was tnat the boat was too heavily laden at bhe stern, and that when the man J. Hughes also iame to the stern it went under. The bat C me ishore near the Gimlet Rock. This was the first boating accident which had occurred at Pwllhe i. When he went out the second time he lwt Owen rhomas, Greenfield, and others. Thay tried to right the capsized boat in order to see if tfure was anyone under it, but found there was no one. Mr Owen Jones, Aherkin House, who has a re xord of having saved ten lives from drowning, was bhe first from the shore to arrive upon the scene. Ln the course of an interview he said that he found three of the bodies recovered, the first being that of the lad O. P. Thomas. He did not thiuk the loat wa" overloaded. It ought to carry the number who were in it nicely. The fact of the matter was they were turning back and a wave got in at the st^rri. rhere were no proper by-laws at Pwllheli and no inspector of boats. A formal inquest was held yesterday (Monday), or the purpose of identifying the bodies recovered. rht; inquiry was adjourned until the other bodies ire recovered. The boat has been officially measured since the tccident and the measurements are as follow Length, 16ft Sin width, 4ft 7in depth, ISin. rhe boat itself is one of the light, ordinary, pitch- ?ine, unrigged structures used as pleasure boats.

BORTH.

LLANKHYSTYD

PORTMAJDOC.

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LLANBliDROG.

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BARMOUTH.

ICRICCIETH. 11.

TOWYN.

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