The Maritime History of the Great Lakes
William Stevenson (Tug), U81152, bioler explosion, 3 Jul 1895

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      No One But Himself Responsible For Engineer Sutton's Death
      Coroner's Jury Verdict.
Coroner Kennedy held an inquest this forenoon to fix the responsibility of the death of engineer Sutton and fireman Boyle, who were killed July 3 by the explosion of the boiler of the tug WILLIAM STEVENSON.
      The jury rendered a verdict to the effect that the death of both men was caused by negligence of Engineer Sutton, who changed the position of the safety valves on the tug.
      Inspector Galvin is reported as saying that he has secured proof that engineer Sutton was carrying a pressure of 250 pounds on the day of the explosion. The tug was permitted to use 120 pounds, the boiler having been tested to a pressure of 185 pounds. He claimed that Sutton was responsible for the accident.
      At the inquest this morning Joseph G. Schumacher of 1342 Michigan street, who is a United States Inspector of Steam Boilers, testified that he made an inspection of the boiler of the STEVENSON on June 3, just a month before the accident, and found it in A No. 1 condition. From a subsequent examination he found that the explosion was caused by an excessive pressure of steam.
      "The pressure at the time of the explosion was so great," said Mr. Schumacher, "that the rivets were pulled out of the crown sheet. The way the engineer had rigged up his boiler was criminal carelessness. The weight of the safety valve had been shifted so that he could carry more steam. By a device of his own Sutton had attached a rope to the escape pipe to increase the pressure. When it was inspected the rope was not there."
      William L. Day of 141 York street, who is captain of the tug, said that he was on the dredge at the time of the explosion. When Sutton was carried from the tug to the dredge he yelled: "For God's sake, Day, get aboard the tug and cut the lanyard."
      "I did as he requested," said the captain. "I found the line taut, but didn't know what it was used for."
"From an outside appearance could you discover that there was anything wrong with the steam valve ?" asked the coroner.
      "No," replied the captain. "No person could have told that the machinery had been changed. The fireman could not have known it if he hadn't helped fix it up."
      The jury's verdict was as follows:
      We, the Juriors, find from the evidence adduced that the accident occurred through the criminal act and carelessness of George A. Sutton, the engineer, in changing the safety and pop valves from the position in which they were placed by the United States Inspector, causing the death of himself and William Boyle. No blame can be attached to the captain or owners of the tug.
      Buffalo Evening News
      Wednesday, July 10, 1895
Steam screw Wm. STEVENSON. U. S No. 81152. Of 30.02 tons gross; 15.01 tons net. Built, Buffalo, N.Y, 1887. Home port, Buffalo, N.Y. 52.6 x 14.6 x 6.0
      Merchant Vessel List, U. S., 1891

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Reason: bioler explosion
Lives: 2
Remarks: Repaired
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Geographic Coverage:
  • New York, United States
    Latitude: 42.90228 Longitude: -78.90393
William R. McNeil
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William Stevenson (Tug), U81152, bioler explosion, 3 Jul 1895