Coroner's Inquest
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THE CORONER'S INQUEST
from the Victoria Daily Colonist, 14 Jan 1904, pg.1

Edward Lannen Says No Distress Signals Were Displayed

The coroner's jury empanelled to enquire touching the death of the victims of the 'Clallam' disaster heard some remarkable statements from one of the survivors at the city hall yesterday. After the bodies had been formerly identified, the coroner announced that Mr. Charles Lugrin had been appointed to represent the Dominion government at the inquiry, and Mr. A.E. McPhillips would appear for the Provincial government, both of whom would be present today. Edward Lannen, who identified the body of Mrs. Reynolds, with whom he was coming to Victoria, said the steamer arrived at Port Townsend at 11:30 and left at 12 noon. He noticed the weather was soon after Townsend was left. He had not been at sea before and became seasick. He went below about 1:30 p.m. Mrs. Reynolds was seasick. He got a stateroom for her. Fifteen minutes after, when he was attending to her, he heard noises in the ladies cabin. Going in he saw life preservers being handed down. As he ran out, he said, "Good God, what's the matter?" Someone replied "I don't know, but you'd better put on one of these." He went to Mrs. Reynolds with a life preserver, and shortly after he went out on the deck and enquired. He was then told that the ship was sinking. He got a life preserver on and went to see that Mrs. Reynolds had hers on. members of the crew then assured him that everything was all right. Fifteen minutes later the boats were lowered. They were launched about 2 o'clock. Mrs. Reynolds got in the first boat. There were twelve women and six men in that boat. I saw the customs officer in the boat and he seemed to be in charge, for he said, "Shove off." The boat sidled along the steamer's side to the bow, where it capsized. The boat was not overcrowded. There was a rush, but some of the crew threatened to kill the first man who got into the boats before the women, and the excitement quieted down. Only two of those in the boat could be seen after she turned over. One of these was a woman who was trying to grasp the bow of the boat. The second boat was lowered at the same time as the first. Witness could not see how many were in the boat. The third boat did not reach the water. A lot of men crowded in, but something went wrong and they were all spilled into the sea. The boat hung in the davits for some hours afterward, hanging against the steamer as it rolled. It was afterward cut away. Shortly after the work of throwing cargo over commenced.

Bucket brigades were formed. Some of the party went into the engine room, then pretty full of water and standing on the grating passed out the buckets of water to others who threw the water out through the ports. At the time of the launching land could not be seen from the 'Clallam. Water came in fast witness did not know from where. It gained on the bailers, and after a time he was standing in water to his knees an the main deck, still bailing. Some were pumping. When it became dark the lights of Victoria could be seen and there was what seemed to be a lighthouse in sight. During this time the bailers were working in the light of four lanterns and another lantern had been placed on the foremast. No other signals of distress were displayed either then of before.

About 10 o'clock at nigh when witness was bailing he heard someone shout. "Here's a tug. We're saved now." Someone else remarked, "There's no need to do any more bailing." Captain Livingstone Thompson said, "Don't quit, boys until we're sure of being safe." The bailers then continued their work. He could not say whether the water came in faster after the tug had taken the vessel in tow. The tug 'Sea Lion' came and Capt, Roberts asked her master to tell the 'Holyoke' to stop towing the 'Clallam' A few minutes after the 'Clallam' gave a lurch and turned over on her side.

There were no signals of distress displayed on the steamer 'Clallam', until dark when a small lamp was hoisted half way on the foremast. About four o'clock a steamer passed not more than a mile away, which he was said was bound to Victoria. This was after the boats had been launched. No effort was made to attract the attention of the vessel by those on the 'Clallam'. During the whole afternoon, up to the time the 'Clallam' went down he had not heard Capt. Roberts given any orders. Just as the steamer was sinking, Capt. Roberts said' "Keep cool, boys." No effort was made to transfer the passengers to the tug. He heard a number of passengers ask Capt. Roberts to transfer them to the tug, when it came to the assistance of the 'Clallam', but did not hear what Capt. Roberts said in reply. He thought passenger could have been transferred to the tug without difficulty. Capt. Roberts and the officers appeared to have all on board under control. There was no panic or disorder.

W. Leplant of San Juan, whose brother, with his wife and child were among the lost, will be called this morning to give evidence in regard to the disaster.
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