MAJESTIC IN WITH CHIEF OFFICER A HERO

New-York Tribune

Passengers Cheer David Blair, Who Risked Life in Fog to Save Fireman
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DIVED IN MIDOCEAN
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Women Weep as Gallant Sailor and Man for Whom He Jumped Are Helped Over Side
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"The he is now, off your starboard bow, Captain Kelk. I think he's sinking."

Having shouted those words to the master of the White Star liner Majestic,
at 10:10 a.m Tuesday, David Blair, chief officer pulled off his trousers and
coat and dived into the Atlantic The Majestic was then about eight hundred
miles east of Sandy Hook, and the water was as cold as when the Titanic
victims perished in that vicinity a year ago.

William Keoun, a fireman, crazed by the heat of the stoke hole, had jumped
overboard and Blair plunged from the promenade deck, a height of forty feet,
to save him.

Everybody on board except Blair himself, wanted to tell about the rescue
yesterday, and  Captain Kelk said he felt mighty proud of his chief officer.

Keoun lost his wife a month ago,and brooded over her death.  Worry,
augmented by the heat of the fire room, affected his mind temporarily, and
on Tuesday he ran up to the main deck and jumped.

Sought Victim in Mist

Hardly had his body hit the surface when the cry of "Man overboard!" rang
throughout the ship.  Captain Kelk stopped his engines, and soon had his
propellers turning full speed astern, but for all his promptness the
Majestic's momentum had carried her a half-mile ahead.  Everybody rushed to
the starboard side.  Passengers and crew alike peered into a hazy atmosphere
in the hope of seeing the fireman.

Captain Kelk put the liner astern over the same course he had come, dropping
a few hundred feet to the south to avoid hitting the fireman with the
propellers.

The starboard emergency lifeboat was ready with men to be dropped the moment
the fireman was sighted.

Mr. Blair, who had been roused from sleep by the cry of "Man overboard!"
pulled his trousers over his pajamas and grasping his binoculars rushed
forward to a place on the promenade deck just under the bridge.  He never
took his eyes from the sea until he shouted to the skipper that he saw the
helpless fireman.

The passengers said Blair made a perfect dive.  When he came to the surface
he looked to the bridge, and seeing Kelk pointing in the direction of the
fireman, got his bearings and struck out for the man he could not then see.

Once he got a glimpse of the unconscious Keoun as the  fireman was tossed up
on a wave, and from that tie until he himself was rescued Blair saw nothing
but sea and mist.

Thought of Fireman  First

He kept bravely on, with nothing to guide him, until the lifeboat came by in
search of the fireman.  Those in the boat called to Blair to climb in, but
he shouted: "I'm all right.  Get that fireman first.  He should be somewhere
about here."

Presently the fog patch passed and the rescuers saw Keoun floating face
downward.  He was hauled in, not a moment too soon, for when the lifeboat
picked up Blair the chief officer was chilled and exhausted.

Cheers attended the hauling up of the boat and its drenched occupants.
Women passengers wept as Blair was helped to the deck and men crowded about
him with words of praise.  Keoun was in a bad way and only the persistent
efforts of the ship's surgeon restored him to consciousness.

Before Blair had time to doff his wt togs a subscription was under way among
the passengers, and when the vesel [sic] docked yesterday $250 had been
collected.  It will be used for the purchase of a medal and a pair of
binoculars commemorative of his bravery.

Saturday a trimmer named Turner disappeared form the Majestic.  It is
thought he jumped into the sea in the night.

Related Biographies:

David Blair

Relates to Ship:

Majestic (1890)

Contributor

Mark Baber

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