Blame For Clallam Disaster
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letter to the editor from the Vancouver Province, 8 Mar 1904

Editor Province. - Allow me for a few lines re the foundering of the 'Clallam'. I cannot agree with your correspondent, Wm. De Silva, that the captain of the steamer was not blamable to a considerable extent, but I do not think he deserved to be found guilty of manslaughter. He has not been punished at all, but simply got a vacation of a few months. As for the engineer, he seems blamed principally for not informing the captain of the state of affairs below sooner. The fittings of the boilers must have been in a bad condition when we hear the incredible statement that the sinking of the steamer was due to the water leaking in through the seacocks. The captain and engineer are touched with a gloved hand, whilst the inspectors - the real parties responsible for the disaster, sit in judgment, and go scot-free. This suggests a consciousness of guilt of both parties.

All the circumstances connected with the lamentable loss of life, plainly indicated the unseaworthiness of the vessel, and confesses the truth of the statements of some of those on board. She wallowed about, in the storm in a teapot without hoops, but held together in a fashion with the paint, with broken deadlights and flimsy saloon windows, inviting the sea to encroach.

If the case had been investigated by an impartial, independent tribunal, and a verdict and judgment delivered in accordance with the true facts of the case, promptly followed by condign punishment, the shrieks of the doomed passengers rising to heaven for vengeance would not have been altogether in vain.

Until the malefactors responsible for disasters of the class in question can be seized and punished by the iron hand of criminal law, the annals of criminal jurisprudence will remain incomplete.
Vancouver, March 8, 1904.