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New York, NY Sound Steamer LEXINGTON Sinks in East River, Jan 1935

Steamer with 181 aboard sunk in East River by freighter; six of crew believed lost


Lexington, in the Sound
Service, Founders in
Ten Minutes.


Two Parts Lie Quarter of Mile
Apart-One of Rescuing
Craft Picks Up 93


Survivors Praise Calmness of
Crew - La Guardia Visits
Scene of Accident.

JANUARY 2 - Cleft asunder by the sharp steel
bow of an outbound freighter, the
forty-four-year-old Sound steamer
Lexington, the Colonial Line,
bound for Providence, went to the
bottom of the East River at 6:35
o'clock last night in two sections a
quarter of a mile apart.
Ten minutes after the crash with
the Arrow Line freighter Jane
Christenson of San Frapcisco, only
the funnel and the after deck house
of the Lexington remained above
the dark. waters beneath the Marlhattan
The Lexington, which sailed from
Pier 11 in the North River at 6
P. M., carried fifty-five in the craw
and there·were about 128 passengers
aboard - the exact number
was unknown because the passenger
list went down with the
ship. Twenty-three of those on
board were taken to downtown hospitals
to be treated for submersion and
other injuries.
Although it was believed that all
the passengers had been safely put
ashore, the police reported that
six members of the crew were
missing. Their names. as made public
by the police, are as follows:
B. Varrearo, fireman; F. Linares,
fireman; S. Rasmussen, seaman;
Lawrence Thimil, messboy;
Fernandez, oiler. and J. Pan. a
coal passer.
Tug boats swarmed alongside the
foundering ship and removed the
passengers from the listing decks.
A few of the passengers. swept off
the settling decks by the rush of
the tide, had to· be fished from the
icy water.

Orchestra Continues to Play.

There was no panic. Until the
very last moment the steamer's
little orchestra fiddled and banged
away on a piano to keep spirits up.
The strict discipline on which tho
Lexington's. veteran master, Captain
William Pendleton, always insisted,
helped in the emergency.
For a few minutes, the Jane
Christenson snuggled close to tho
ship she had rammed, seeking to
plug the gaping hole in the Lexington's
hull with her own littered
bow. That was hopeless, but
- at last the freighter backed off.
proceeding to a. mooring in the Red
Hook Flats of the Brooklyn spore
seemingly only slightly damaged.
Fireboats and wrecking craft
towed the two broken parts of the
Lexington toward Manhattan shore,
where members of Police Emergency
Squads began hacking and
tearing at the wooden decks and·
doorways in a search for the bodies
of any who might have been overlooked
in the excitement after the
crash. They found none, nor did
the flotilla of police boats in the
river, recovering flotsam, come
upon any bodies.
The iron hull settled to the bot-.
tom, but the forward part later was
pulled to a point seventy-five feet
off shore, near the anchorage of the
Manhattan Bridge.
The stern section was a little more than
a quarter of a mile to the north, alongsIde
a pier at the foot of Grand Street.
Great packing cases of surgical
gauze, which formed the major
part of her cargo, were removed
from the hold.

Darkness Hampers Search.

Darkness hampered the search. of
the wreckage. The lights of half
a dozen police emergency trucks
parked at pierheads along the river
gave insufficient illumation and
a collapsible boat was set adrift
with flares to help illumine the
scene. These burned for about ten
minutes and then went out. They
revealed a river clogged with wreckage,
chairs, mattresses and tables
and splintered timpers.

Jan. 3, 1935 edition of The New York Times

article | by Dr. Radut