Hancock County Happenings: Old Swinging Bridge Falls With Big Crash


With a crash that could be heard for blocks, the old suspension bridge, which crosses the river near Maple Grove cemetery, fell into the river twenty-five feet below, Sunday evening at 5 o’clock. There were about thirty people on the bridge at the time of the accident, but only a few were seriously injured. That many were not killed is considered a miracle by all who saw the awful accident.

The accident was caused by the breaking of one of the large cables which support the bridge super-structure. When the largest number of people were in the center of the bridge the strain on the cables became too great and the one on the east side of the bridge snapped about thirty feet from the south end of the bridge.

In falling the bridge turned completely over, throwing the unfortunates upon the rocks below. The river at this point is unspeakably filthy owing to the large sewer which empties into it about a quarter of a mile above the scene of the accident. It was with the greatest difficulty that some of the people, and especially the injured, were extricated from the slime and filth. Fears were entertained that many would be drowned before the work of rescuing was completed, although the river at this point is very shallow.

At the time of the accident there were on the bridge several women whose cries for help, while floundering around in the water below, were heart rending. With all possible haste they were taken from the water and removed from the scene of the accident.

The report that the bridge had given way spread rapidly over the city and in half an hour the streets at this place were crowded for hundreds of feet around. So anxious were the spectators to lend a helping hand or even to catch a glimpse of the fallen bridge that it was with the greatest difficulty that many were kept from being thrown over the steep embankment into the river, twenty five feet below.

The most seriously injured was Hilda Outfelt, an employe of the glove factory and residing o Putnam street, and George Davis, residing in Marion township, a son of Isaac Davis, of this city.

Miss Outfelt was carried into the home of J. E. Thomas, where medical aid was administered. It was at first thought that her back had been broken, but it was later determined that her back was severely sprained. In addition to this Miss Outfelt received a sprained knee and a badly bruised hip. She was removed to her home several hours later but was suffering intense pain.

Mr. Davis, who was near the south end of the bridge, hung on to the broken cable and was pulled beneath the wreckage as it turned over, being crushed beneath the flooring and a large stone on the bottom of the river. He received an internal injury and it was with the greatest difficulty that he was able to breathe. Mr. Davis also received many minor cuts and bruises and when taken to the home of his father, on Center street, he was in a very faint condition.

Mr. N. Deprez, the extent of whose injuries could not be learned. But it is reported that she is quite seriously injured.

Among the number slightly injured were:

Glenn Hardy, a twelve year old boy living on Shinkle street, who received numerous bruises and cuts about his limbs.

H D LaFever, an employe of the L. E. & W., who received a sprained leg besides several cuts on his head.

Will Young, a glass worker, who was bruised and scratched on a rock in the bed of the river.

A man named Goodman who had his right ear torn loose.

There were many others who received cuts and bruises too numerous to mention.

The people were returning from the west side ball park and but a few moments before it is reported that a much larger crowd was on the bridge than at the time when it went down.

An eye witness lays the blame on a crowd of young boys who were in the habit of swinging the bridge when a woman attempted to cross. As Miss Outfelt came on the bridge the boys saw a chance to frighten her and were in the act of swinging the bridge from side to side when the accident occurred.

This bridge has spanned the river for over twenty years, having been repaired but two weeks ago. Authorities state that it is their opinion that the bridge will not be rebuilt.

A very amusing incident occurred on the scene of the accident. A young lad whose name could not be learned, was caught beneath the wreckage near the south side of the river. The debris was quickly removed and a lifeless body was expected to be found. But instead the lad arose and began looking around in a bewildered manner. When asked if he was not hurt, he replied, “No, but darn it, look at my clothes.” This was a very fortunate escape from death, although it did not appear thus to the boy.

Hancock Courier (Findlay, Ohio), 19 Sep 1907, p 3 col 5.