Encyclopedia Titanica


New York Times

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Dr. Norris Makes Public the Official Record of Mrs. Waidman's Examination
Unable to Recall Where She Sat or Exactly How Sons Plunged to Death From Hotel Roof
Dr. Charles Norris, Chief Medical Examiner, made public yesterday the transcript of his examination of Mrs. Milton S. Waldman the day before in the Park West Sanitarium, 179 West Seventy-sixth Street, regarding the manner in which her two small children, Terrence, 4 years, and Benjamin, 14 months, fell from the roof of the Surrey Apartment Hotel, 20 East Seventy-sixth Street, and were killed.

Mrs. Waldman, the daughter of the late Benjamin Guggenheim, had gone to the roof of the sixteen-story hotel with her children to visit her cousin, Mrs. Cornelius Love Jr., who has a pent-house apartment there. Mrs. Love was not at home, and Mrs. Waldman walked out on the roof, carrying the infant, with the older boy following.

She revealed only a fragmentary recollection of what happened after she stepped onto the roof on passing through two gates of the fence the Loves erected around a small garden. She said that she could not recall whether she actually had sat down on the coping an one side of the roof, overlooking the roof of the three-story building at Madison Avenue and Seventy-sixth Street to which the children fell.

Record of Mother's Story

The record of the examination follows:

Q.-A week ago this afternoon you went to visit Mrs. Love and you didn't find her in. A.-Yes, doctor.

Q.-And very shortly afterwards you went out on the roof with your children. A.-Yes, doctor.

Q.-Can you tell just what happened? A.-I feel a little dazed about it, but as far as I can remember I just went out on the roof with the two children and I walked around to make a tour of inspection. Mrs. Love told me it was perfectly safe there and the baby was awfully heavy and I sat down for a minute to rest, and the next thing I knew the big boy started climbing up and pushing and before I knew it they had both disappeared over the side of the roof, and it all happened so suddenly I just can't understand.

Q.-You sat on the parapet? A.-I sat down for a minute. The baby was very heavy to carry and I sat down the nearest place I saw.

Q.-Right near the chimney? A.-I don't remember anything. I remember the red tiles on the roof. I feel so confused about it all. I have tried to think about it, but it was all so terribly sudden. It is quite possible there was a chimney there. I suppose there was on the roof. The next thing I knew---it was all so sudden---they were over the side and gone, and I remember calling for help, calling the maid and somebody giving me some water in a glass.

Boy Pushed at Baby

Q.-Do you remember the older boy getting up on the parapet? A.-I am not very clear about it. I remember him pushing at the baby and trying to get into my arms too. I remember him struggling with the baby.

Q.-Did he put his feet on the parapet? A.-I really don't remember where he put his feet. I remember him pushing the baby and climbing up.

Q.-The baby was in your arms? A.-Yes, he was. I was sitting or standing---I am still dazed about it all. I think I was still sitting. It seems to me I must have been. The next thing I knew they were both over and it was all so terribly sudden.

Q.-The way I want to help you---I want to have some sort of a reason for---to explain the fact that you yourself did not go off the parapet. You see, it is awfully low, hardly two feet in height. A.-God only knows why I didn't go over. It certainly would have been much better.

Q.-I am only trying to help you out. A.-I can't understand it; they are both very heavy children.

Q.-The baby couldn't walk? A.-He could just stand.

Q.-The older boy was vigorous and strong? A.-Terribly vigorous and strong, and he jumps around a great deal. I think he was a little jealous of the baby. He went up and pinched him.

Q.-The thing I want to get from you, I know it is hard---can you tell me where the big boy was? Was he at any time on the parapet or standing on the parapet? A.-No, I don't think he could have been. I wouldn't let him stand on the parapet. As far as I remember, he was climbing into my arms and pushing the baby.

Believed It Was Quite Safe

Q.-What was the idea of your going on that side of the roof? A.-I have never been on that roof before and I wanted to get acquainted so I could get a nice place to locate for the afternoon. Mrs. Love told me it was quite safe and I had taken the children to penthouses before. Last Winter I had taken them to my cousin's uptown. She had a penthouse and I always thought they were quite safe places. I often took them up there to play. I can't understand why I didn't go over too. It certainly would have been much better if the Lord had taken me and left the children.

Q.-How long were you on the roof altogether and what time was it? A.-I haven't any idea what time but I thought somebody else would remember. I don't think it was very long because I had only just started going round the roof when it happened. As far as I can remember, I hadn't settled any place to sit down for the afternoon. I was just looking around. I had never been up there before and didn't know my way round very well.

Q.-When you got up on the roof, you were carrying the baby in your arms and the big boy was walking? A.-Yes; the big boy was walking. I couldn't carry them both. I feel awfully dazed about it all. I am sorry I cannot get a clearer picture of it all. It was such a shock, I am awfully muddled in my mind.

Q.-You see, I want to help you all I can. It is easy enough to see why the baby should fall off the roof, but I should like to get some sort of an idea from you why the big boy fell off the roof. Was the big boy on your lap? A.-I remember he was climbing up.

Q.-You ought to remember that. A.-He pushed the baby and was climbing up into my arms. I suppose it was my lap he was climbing up into.

Q.-He must have had his feet on the parapet or on your lap? A.-It was all so quick, I don't remember where his feet were.

Q.-Aren't you quite sure his feet were on your lap? A.-As I remember, he started traveling up to me and pushing the baby. I suppose he climbed up into my lap.

After his examination of Mrs. Waldman on Friday, Dr. Norris said:

"The case is closed so far as I am concerned."

He added that he had not changed us opinion and official pronouncement that the deaths had been "entirely accidental."

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Comment and discuss

  1. E.G.L. said:

    She must have been the stupidest woman in the world.

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Encyclopedia Titanica (2004) STORY OF BOYS' FALL AS TOLD BY MOTHER (New York Times, Sunday 28th October 1928, ref: #3737, published 14 September 2004, generated 16th October 2021 09:32:50 PM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/story-boys-fall-as-told-mother.html