New York Times

Swept from Raft to Which His Son Managed to Cling
The manner in which John B. Thayer, Second Vice President of the Pennsylvania Railroad, met his death along with eighteen or twenty other men was described last night by Mrs. W. C. Stephenson of Haverford, Penn., one of the survivors. Thayer, his son, John B. Thayer, Jr., and the score of other men, she said, refused to enter a lifeboat, choosing instead to take their chances on a crude raft. They had scarcely jumped to the raft when a huge wave struck it, splitting it in two parts. Mr. Thayer, Sr., was thrown into the water and disappeared. His son managed to scramble back on the raft, and was rescued by one of the lifeboats.

Mrs. Stephenson said that Mrs. John B. Thayer was in the same lifeboat with her and saw her husband go to his death. Others in the lifeboat, she said, were Mrs. John Jacob Astor and Mrs. George D. Widener of Philadelphia.

"Mr. Thayer," said Mrs. Stephenson, "was one of the bravest men I ever saw. Immediately after we felt the shock of the collision he bent every effort to comfort and console the women and to see that they got safely into the lifeboats. He refused to give a thought to his own safety until he had done all that mortal man could do for us."

Mrs. Stephenson said she had ample time to obtain clothing after the collision and life preservers were distributed, which she said, afterwards proved a most welcome protection against the cold.

They were in the lifeboat at least five hours and on several occasions during that time narrowly escaped being engulfed by great waves. One of these waves, she said, swept completely over the boat, drenching every one [sic] and sweeping a man named Williams over the side.

On board the Carpathia, she said, she had seen Mrs. Astor several times walking about near the Captain's cabin and had talked with her. Mrs. Astor, she said, was apparently in delicate health, but had borne up well under the terrible ordeal.

Mrs. Stephenson was taken to the Pennsylvania Station in a taxicab provided by the railroad and started for Philadelphia on a special train which the company had placed at the disposal of such of the survivors as wished to use it.

Related Biographies:

Madeleine Talmage Astor
Martha Stephenson
John Borland Thayer
John Borland Thayer Jr
Eleanor Widener


Mark Baber

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