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New York Times

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Medical Examiner Announces Finding After Iquiry Into Waldman Tragedy
Absolves Police for Moving Bodies and Says Their Inquiry Was Thorough
Says He Saw Mother Sitting on Parapet---Family Physician Also is Heard
Dr. Charles Norris, Chief Medical Examiner, after hearing seven witnesses in his inquiry into the death of the two children of Mr. and Mrs. Milton S. Waldman, heirs to the Benjamin Guggenheim fortune, who fell from the roof of the sixteen-story Hotel Surrey, 20 East Seventy-sixth Street, last Friday, decided that the deaths were "entirely accidental."

Among the witnesses at the hearing, which was conducted at the Medical Examiner’s office in the Municipal Building yesterday afternoon, was Dr. Newton B. Waller of 53 East Eighty-second Street, who said he had been physician for the Guggenheims for many years, and had treated Mrs. Waldman, mother of the children, Terrence, 4½, and Benjamin, 14 months old, since she was a little girl.

Dr. Norris announced his conclusion in a formal written statement, which read:

"In the hearing held before me this afternoon, the testimony of the witnesses, especially that of the bricklayer's helper, Liberato Macari, convinces me that the unfortunate deaths of the Waldman children was entirely accidental."

Absolves the Police

He added to this a reiteration of his previous vindication of the police for permitting the children's bodies to be removed before they were examined by his assistant, Dr. Raymond S. Miles, saying permission had been given by the day clerk of his office.

"The investigation made by the police was thorough in every respect," he said.

Dr. Norris, in giving his official verdict, said that his hearing was "practically closed." He said, however, that he would interview Mrs. Waldman, who is in a state of collapse under the care of a physician, "at her convenience." The record of the hearing would, of course, he said, be forwarded to the District Attorney.

The hearing followed the second police investigation into the tragedy. Deputy Inspector Arthur A. Carey, in command of the Homicide Squad, said last night the case was closed as far as the Police Department was concerned.

Friends Represent Family

F. P. Kearney and George W. Whiteside, attorneys, who said they were friends of both Mr. and Mrs. Waldman and were merely "representing the family," to give such aid as they could to Dr. Norris in his inquiry, remained throughout the hearing.

Liberato Macari of 73 Varick Street, Corona, L. I., the bricklayer's helper, on whose testimony Dr. Norris placed special importance in announcing his decision, at the time of the tragedy was assisting Alexander Hill, bricklayer, of 31 Atlantic Avenue, Jersey City, on a scaffold on the fifteenth floor of the Professional Building, directly across from the Surrey.

Macari testified he saw Mrs. Waldman sitting with her back to the chimney on the parapet of the hotel roof, facing north, with one child in her arms and the other playing. He described how he glanced up from laying bricks and saw the failing children. He then saw the woman, he said, running frantically toward the penthouse.

Dr. Waller testified that when summoned to the Hotel Surrey by Mrs. Guggenheim, the children's grandmother, he found Mrs. Waldman "very emotional."

"I gave her a sedative," he said, adding, "I took her in my arms. I had been her doctor since she was a child. I asked her how in God's name so horrible an accident happened.

"She said the little boy was in her arms; that she was tired and walking around, when Terry, the older child, wanted to get up, too; that he was always jealous. That he tugged at her, and then she didn't remember exactly what happened."

Others who made statements were Lieutenant Thomas F. Dugan of the East Sixty-seventh Street Station, who has had charge of the case; Patrolman Gus Levy, Joseph Huyler, a painter; Dr. Richard M. Brickner, 29 East Eighty-third Street, who arrived at the Surrey a few minutes after the accident and before the ambulance came; Miss Nellie McCormick, a maid employed by Mrs. Cornelius B. Love, occupant of the penthouse on the hotel roof; Edward Stanck, engineer, of 352 West Twenty-second Street; Hill, the bricklayer, and C. Eugene Hames, managing director of the Surrey.

Related Biographies

Benjamin Guggenheim


Mark Baber, USA

Comment and discuss

  1. disqus_9hGcgJwej7 said:

    That is one hard to believe "accident". A tug from a 4 1/2 year old is not that overwhelming especially if you are between sitting and standing up over a chair you can let yourself fall back onto and certainly not powerful enough to open your arms to the point of dropping a 14 month old to his death along with 4 1/2 year old!

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2004) DEATH OF BOYS HELD ACCIDENT BY NORRIS (New York Times, Thursday 25th October 1928, ref: #3733, published 13 September 2004, generated 26th October 2021 09:25:55 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/death-boys-held-accident-norris.html