Did the lifejackets kill the passengers and crew

Bob Godfrey

Nov 22, 2002
Lowe's actions were not unique. Let's not forget the efforts of the crew of boat 4, who stayed close enough to the wreck to take twice as many people from the water as did Lowe's boat 14.
Jun 12, 2004
didn't say that Lowe was unique, just admirable. I know there were many people who contributed to the saving and the morale of others.

Inger Sheil

Dec 3, 2000
Hallo Mark -

No worries on the misprint - we all make errors like that in the more casual discourse of the board. I would have assumed it was a typo, but when you specifically mentioned Lowe, B and Bride, I thought it was worth clearing up.

The duration of Bride's experiences under Collapsible B are certainly open for discussion...take his own testimony. In America we have this:

Senator SMITH. It fell, the bottom side upward?

Mr. BRIDE. Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH. What became of you?

Mr. BRIDE. I was inside the boat.

Senator SMITH. You were under the boat?

Mr. BRIDE. Yes.

Senator SMITH. How long did you remain in the boat?

Mr. BRIDE. I could not tell you.

Senator SMITH. About how long?

Mr. BRIDE. It seemed a lifetime to me, really.

Senator SMITH. I understand, but I would like to know, if possible, if at any time you got on top of the boat?

Mr. BRIDE. I got on top of the boat eventually.

Senator SMITH. Eventually?

Mr. BRIDE. Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH. Before anyone else got on top of it?

Mr. BRIDE. No, sir.

Senator SMITH. Who was on top of the boat when you got on?

Mr. BRIDE. There was a big crowd on top when I got on. I had to get away from under the bottom.

Senator SMITH. You remained under the boat how long?

Mr. BRIDE. I should say about three-quarters of an hour, or a half.

Senator SMITH. Was there breathing space under the boat when it was turned over in that way?

Mr. BRIDE. Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH. So that you got away from it as quickly as you could?

Mr. BRIDE. Yes, sir.

Senator SMITH. You got out free from it, or did you cling to it, pulling yourself up to the side?

Mr. BRIDE. I freed myself from it and cleared out of it.
But in the UK we have this:
16612. Do you mind telling us about it? - I was in the water, I should estimate, nearly three-quarters of an hour. It may have been more. It was some time after the "Titanic" sank.

16613. I only want you to tell us about it. I have looked up your evidence in America. Did you find yourself at the under-side of the collapsible boat? - I was on the under-side of the boat, yes.

16614. I want you to tell us about it? - I was on the underside of the boat. After I had been there two or three seconds I cleared myself and swam away from it.

16615. The collapsible boat is a flat kind of thing like a raft? - Yes.

16616. You mean, you found yourself on the underside of that? - Yes.

16617. (The Commissioner.) In the water? - Yes.

16618. Knocking your head against the bottom of it? - I was upside down myself. I was lying on my back.

16619. (The Solicitor-General.) You were lying on your back, and found yourself on the underside of this raft? - Yes.

16620. Was there an air space between the underside of that and the top of the water? - I could not find it.

16621. Then you were in the water? - Yes.

16622. (The Commissioner.) You cannot have been very long there? - Oh, no.

16623. You must have got out of that position? - Yes, I did.
So now the airpocket has vanished, and he was there 'two or three seconds.' Definitions of 'some time' are going to vary, but it does seem to imply a longer period of time than a few seconds. The discrepency in his UK/US evidence did not go unnoticed:
The Commissioner: What is this material to?

16624. (The Solicitor-General.) It is not very material except that one likes to be satisfied we have got hold of the same gentleman who gave evidence in America. I read here: "You remained under the boat how long?" and you are recorded as giving an answer: "I should say about three-quarters of an hour or half" Is that right? - No. Senator Smith pressed that question, and I could not give him any idea, he said: "How long did it seem"? and I said: "It seemed a life time."

16625. The next question is" "Was there a breathing space under the boat when it was turned over in that way?" and you are recorded as having answered "Yes, Sir." Did you mean, no? - No, I do not think I said anything like that.

16626. "So that you got away from it as quickly as you could? - (A.) Yes, Sir. (Q.) Then you got out of it and got on it. At any rate, there seems to be some confusion.
The point of the flat contradiction (air pocket/no airpocket) was never cleared up.
Mar 15, 2001
This is probably somewhere on the board but I will ask anyway. Did passengers break their necks when they jumped into the water with their life jackets on? Someone mentioned that to me and I didn't know what to tell them.

[Moderator's Note: This subject is, indeed, already on the board and this message, originally posted under a different topic, has been moved to the pre-existing discussion. MAB]

Jim Kalafus

Dec 3, 2000
Probably. I've found at least 6 accounts from the Morro Castle in which people were killed by their life preservers (one extremely disturbing) and an larger number of accounts by passengers who were "stunned" "knocked out" "left unconscious" by life jackets slamming up under their chins when they hit the water. Which is why, when you take a cruise out of US Ports, they make you take the time to learn how to jump with your arms properly postioned to prevent that from happening.
Mar 17, 2010
Hi Darren,

There is definitely evidence that passengers were injured, or even killed by jumping from the rising stern of the ship, or even just the side of the ship, wearing the lifejackets and having their shoulders or necks broken.

Imagine jumping from something which is over 60ft from the water with a hard cork-filled lifejacket clamped tight around you. The chances that you come out of something like that unscathed are very small.

Apr 11, 2001
Looking at some of these old life vests with cork blocks sewed inside unbleached natural canvas pockets and side snap rings or ties, it seems like "one size fits all"-with the result that if you were a really petite woman or a child, there could be plenty of room for shifting upon impact with the water. I am not sure just when children's life jackets came into being, or the familiar bright orange color.

Dave Gittins

Apr 11, 2001
Remember that anybody jumping from the great heights involved would probably been killed anyway, with or without lifebelts. Imagine going over from the stern towards the end. Like hitting concrete!
Aug 13, 2011
Was it not the case of poor instructions on how to fasten the lifebelts ?

People must have put them over their heads and neglected to fasten them tightly round their waists.
You can hardly blame the design or the materials used, they weren't meant to be used by people jumping into water from a great height.
Dec 2, 2000
Easley South Carolina
>>Was it not the case of poor instructions on how to fasten the lifebelts ?<<

I don't know that they had any instruction on how to fasten lifebelts. Not that it would make any difference for the vast majority of people who were trapped on the ship. If they rode it down, they tended to freeze to death. Anyone jumping from a great hight with the lifebelt on might as well have fitted a noose around their necks then jump. The results would have been the same.


Jul 21, 2012
United Kingdom
The life jackets probably probably broke or hurt their necks when they jumped into the water from the stern. I remember watching a programme on TV several years ago and they wanted to see if the life jackets actually were fit for purpose. So, one of the men made a life jacket like the ones from the Titanic and jumped into a swimming pool from a high diving board. He said that it worked but that the life jacket also hurt his neck.

Arun Vajpey

Apr 21, 2009
Good post. I always felt that modern announcements on board aircraft etc should explain more clearly the dangers of inflating the lifevests before hitting the water. IMO, in a real emergency a lot of panicking passengers would otherwise do just that.


Apr 11, 2015
Life jackets

I dont know how exactly I got this in my head but I found myself suddenly thinking about life jackets and then remembered watching the Titanic movie as a kid where people jumped from the ship with them on. So my questions is

- Did someone actually jump or is it just in movies and documentaries?

- Wouldnt that have broken your bones? neck etc and led to death?

- I tried to find information but couldnt. Are there any evidence, eyewitness that saw this happening?

Ryan Burns

Sep 23, 2016
- Did someone actually jump or is it just in movies and documentaries?

- Wouldnt that have broken your bones? neck etc and led to death?
Many people jumped off the ship. One of particular interest is Frank Prentice. He and two other mates were at the very stern of the ship and as the ship rose his two mates jumped off. As he was preparing to jump, the ship broke in two, and that is when he jumped. So he didn't fall from too much of a great height. Nevertheless, he encountered one of his mates in the water and he was severely injured. Frank stayed with him until he died. So I think it's all but certain that his friend was mortally wounded by the fall, because his friend jumped right before the break, which means that he jumped from the maximum height that the ship reached that night. Though the stern never reached the height that we saw in the Cameron movie, Prentice's friend likely fell from perhaps as high as 150 feet, which generally isn't survivable into water.

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