Pleasant Ridge, OH Outhouse Floor Collapses, Sep 1904
About Thirty one rambunctious schoolgirls, a sudden rainstorm, and a mad dash for the outhouse. This does not end well, but does contain remarkable acts of heroism and self-sacrifice
Cincinnati, Sept. 23. — Nine little girls were suffocated in a vault, and a score of others narrowly escaped the same horrible death, at the school at Pleasant Ridge, seven miles north of this city, today. The disaster occurred at the forenoon recess, and throughout the remainder of the day the village was wild with excitement, sorrow and indignation. Tonight those who openly charge the calamity to official negligence are making serious threats, among them being many women.
All of the victims were from primary grades.
On opposite sides of the grounds in the rear of the school building are two outhouses. At recess about thirty of the smaller girls were in the outhouse assigned to them, when suddenly the floor gave way, precipitating them into the vault below. This vault is twelve feet deep and walled up with stone like a well. It contained four feet of water, which would have been over the heads of the children had they fallen into it singly, but those who fell first partially filled up the vault, so that the others were not entirely submerged.
The girls fell eight feet from the floot, and the struggling of those on top kept at least nine under water until they were dead. The frame sheds of these vaults were about twenty feet square, without windows, and only one narrow doorway, so that one girl escaped from the door. She ran into the school building and told the teachers what had happened. The principal and other teachers rushed to the rescue. The screams of the girls in the vault were faintly heard, and most of them were unable to speak when rescued. The teachers were soon reinforced by the entire population of the village, the police and fire departments rendering effective service. The firemen drained the vault, to be sure that the rescue was complete.
Those engaged in the rescue work tell of ghastly experiences. Even those rescued alive presented such an appearance as to make many of the spectators faint, but the sight within the vault beggared all description.
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