Tells How It Feels to Go Up In A Geyser (1916)

From nycsubway.org

The New York Times · Monday, February 21, 1916

TELLS HOW IT FEELS TO GO UP IN A GEYSER. Man Shot Through River Bed from Tunnel Was Never Squeezed So Tightly Before.
Body of Third Victim Found-- Damage to New Subway More Serious Than Was Thought.

The body of Michael McCarthy, one of the three men shot up through. the bed of the East River on Saturday afternoon by a leak of compressed air from the new subway tunnel under construction opposite the foot of Montague Street, Brooklyn, was recovered yesterday morning by the harbor police about 200 yards from the scene of the accident.

Another man, Frank Driver, a negro miner's helper, died soon after the accident, as he was being dragged aboard a launch. The third man, Marshall Mabey, who was taken to the Brooklyn City Hospital, was able to go to his home at 89 Theodore Street, Long Island City, yesterday, He was not seriously injured, and said he hoped to return to work within a day or two. He gave a graphic description of his experience.

The blow-out caused much more damage than was at first believed. Travis H. Whitney of the Public Service Commission made a two-hour investigation yesterday and found that the water had filled the tube, making it necessary to stop all work for the time. The compressed air was kept on and it was possible to locate the point where the break occurred by the great air bubbles which rose three or four feet above the surface.

Repairs will begin this morning, and hundreds of tons of clay will be dumped into the river to make a new bed over the part of the tunnel where the break occurred. It is estimated that this will take two days, and that work inside the tunnel cannot be resumed until Wednesday.

The body of McCarthy was taken to the Brooklyn Morgue, and will be removed to 1782 Third Avenue, where he lived with relatives.

Mabey, who received no serious injury, took his narrow escape without much show of concern. The sandhogs, as tunnel workers are known, expect something to happen in their kind of work, he said.

"The first thing that told me something was wrong," he related yesterday, "was when I saw an opening in the earth ahead of the shield which was used to protect the tunnel as we went along. The hole was then about eighteen inches in size. Frank Driver, my partner, and I grabbed hold of a big plank and threw it at the hole to stop it up. I found that the air pressure was pushing me toward the hole, and I tried to save myself by grabbing the air pipes. I missed them, and then I felt myself being pushed into the hole.

"As I struck the mud it felt as if something was squeezing me tighter than I had ever been squeezed. I was smothered and I guess I lost consciousness. They tell me I was thrown about twenty-five feet above the water when I came out, but I don't remember that.

"I am a good swimmer and I kept my mouth shut and came up to the surface. I had on my big rubber boots and they bothered me but I managed somehow to keep my head above the surface. My left leg was numb but I could move it. Finally men on a pier threw me a rope and I held on until I was taken out of the water."

Mabey is 28 years old and has a wife and four children. Mrs. Mabey made this comment about the accident:

"Of course I know that Marshall is in danger every time he goes to work but all work is dangerous and my husband is as careful as he can be. His job is a good one and I am glad he has it."

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