Oiler's Fight in the Hold of the Ill-fated
E. Parker, an oiler on the 'Clallam', fought against
the flood that poured into the hold of the ill-fated vessel until the water was up to his neck,
and then got away in the only boat that lived through the storm. When Capt. Roberts shouted to
the men below that the ship was lost and ordered them to save themselves if they could, Parker
grabbed an axe and cut loose the last remaining boat on the 'Clallam'.
The boat swamped, but Parker held on, and he drifted about all the rest of the night, a lone passenger in a boat that was level full of water, but still did not go down. He was picked up off Smith's island about 5 o'clock yesterday morning by the tug 'Sea Lion', while he was drifting about helplessly in plain sight of the lighthouse, but unable to attract attention from the people on shore.
Parker was the last man to leave the sinking vessel except Pilot Doheny. It was a scramble for life, with all hope of saving the sinking vessel gone when Parker came on deck. He says he cut the boat loose with an axe and plunged into the sea, and he thinks Doheny jumped overboard and was picked up by a raft.
"The sight of those poor women and children being killed right before our eyes was a terrible one." said Parker yesterday. "The first boats were launched about 3 o'clock in the afternoon, when it was seen that the 'Clallam' was filling despite our efforts to bail her out. The water put out fires, so the whistles could not be used, and the hazy fog made it impossible to see our signals of distress.
"Three boats were launched, and they all went down, right before our eyes. The first boat carried women and children; the next was a boatload of men, and the third had women and children. The first boat lived about half an hour, as nearly as I can recollect; the others were swamped before they hardly got clear of the ship. There was an awful sea running in the straits, and it looked to me as if the waves were as high as this dock.
"The crew and the men passengers worked down below trying to bail out the water, but work as we would, it kept crowding up on us. We threw everything loose overboard, and tried to plug up the holes with bundles and boxes, but it was of no use. She floated something like ten hours from the time she began taking water, and lived through seas that threatened to swamp her every minute.
"There was no confusion on board. The women and children were put in boats and then every able-bodied man turned in and tried to save the ship. John Smith, who worked alongside of me, was drowned. We were in water up to our necks and were chilled to the bone when Capt. Roberts ordered all hands on deck to save ourselves. While we were at work below we expected the 'Clallam' to go down every minute, and how the steamer lived through some of those seas is a wonder to me.
"I rushed on deck and saw a boat swinging from the davits. I chopped it loose with an axe and she swamped in the heavy sea running. I got aboard, and though the boat was filled to the brim with water, and a terrible sea was running, she did not go down. I was chilled to the bone, was hungry and thirsty, and it seemed days to me while I lay within sight of the lighthouse on Smith's island, with the light flickering at me, and me helpless to make my condition known.
"The boys on the 'Sea Lion' deserve a lot of credit. They worked like troopers picking up survivors, and they got me about 5 o'clock in the morning. I was about all in, I can tell you, but they soon bucked me up with hot drinks and dry clothing."