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New York, NY East River Drowning, May 1890



A very sad drowning accident occurred in the East River yesterday. Just as evening was setting in a rowboat passed the foot of Sixty-fourth Street containing five boys out for a pleasure trip. They were going under the bow of a barge anchored in the stream, when their small boat collided with the sweep pole of the large craft and was instantly capsized.

The shouts of the boys attracted attention aboard the United States steamer Vermont, which was riding at anchor near by. A steam launch was lowered in charge of Coxswain James Davenport. The overturned boat was soon reached. Four of the boys were found clinging to her. They were taken aboard very much exhausted. The fifth lad had, in the meantime, drowned. When the boat capsized he had sunk and come to the surface at a considerable distance from her. The tide was carrying him swiftly away.

A sailor aboard the barge, whose sweep pole had caused the accident, threw the boy a rope. He grasped it and was pulled alongside. Then, with an injunction to hold fast, his rescuers began to haul him aboard. He had almost reached the rail when his strength seemed to give out and, turning his face upward, he murmured "Good-bye," let go the rope, and fell into the stream. His body sank and was not recovered. He was George Helfrish, sixteen years old, whose home was at First Avenue and Forty-sixth Street. His companions in the boat were Joseph Shaben, William Pekerny, Frank Formane, and John Conaty.

The New York Times, New York, NY 19 May 1890

article | by Dr. Radut