Tragedy of morro castle
The best means for profit in the years of Prohibition is alcohol. This simple maxim in 1930 was adopted by the American company Ward Line, operating in the maritime transport market. Businessmen organized a weekly flight to Cuba, where rum and women were equally accessible.
Dollars flowed river. In less than four years, the luxury liner Morro Castle has made 173 super-profit flights to Havana. But the 174th was cut short by a terrible mystical tragedy. Someone poisoned the captain and set fire to the ship. Killed more than a hundred people. The culprit of the disaster was calculated only after 19 years, and he turned out to be a man who was awarded the medal "For Bravery" for his actions in the fire.
However, Robert Wilmott did not honor the passengers by his presence in the cabin at the captain's table. The captain felt unimportant and ordered the watchman to apologize for him and put dinner in the cabin. An hour later, the ship's doctor diagnosed the captain's death from poisoning. He was found in a half-dressed bath.
The news of Wilmott's death spread through the ship. The music and laughter fell silent, the banquet was canceled, and the passengers went to their cabins.
In the third hour of the night, New York firefighter John Kempf was awakened by the smell of burning.He jumped into the corridor, ran around the deck and found a fire in the ship’s library. A metal cabinet full of papers burned with a strange blue flame. John rushed to the hydrant, but there was no pressure. The man began to knock on the doors of the cabins, and in the meantime the fire was growing rapidly. For some reason, the fire system did not work.
Senior Assistant William Worms, Acting Captain, turned out to be extremely stupid. Instead of giving the SOS signal immediately, he waited more than 15 minutes, hoping that the fire would be eliminated. In addition, Worms did not order any of his assistants to lead the extinguishing of the fire. Passengers themselves clumsily wrestled with fire. For this, in essence, Worms and received two years in prison.
Worms was a match for the team. The chief mechanic Aban Abbott did not appear on the alarm signal on the bridge, nor was he in the engine room. It turned out that he organized the launch of the lifeboat and sat down in it himself. Many crew members followed suit. They saved their own skins.
Almost the entire ship was already on fire. The head of the ship’s radio station, George Rogers, risking his life, reached the radio room and, in suffocating smoke, managed to tap a distress signal and transmit the coordinates of the sinking ship.He also showed people the way to the boats and tried to somehow allay the panic.
By dawn, only a few people remained on a completely burnt-out and still steaming liner. By the Morro Castle came the rescue ship of the US Navy Tampa. Burnt liner taken in tow to deliver to New York. But during transportation, the weather deteriorated dramatically, and the towing cable broke. Morro Castle drifted for more than ten hours before being stranded near the beach of Asbury Recreation Park in New Jersey.
The next morning, hundreds of people, hearing about the tragedy, came to the beach to gawk at Morro Castle. The owners of the park took $ 10 for the right to get on board the ship. Visitors were given respiratory masks, flashlights and fire boots.
Subsequently, a businessman suggested to the founders of the Ward Line company to sell the wreck of the ship for one hundred thousand dollars - he intended to arrange a horror attraction there. But the owners of Morro Castle preferred to hand over the ship for scrap - reputation is more expensive.
As a result of the tragedy, 134 people were killed (there were more than 500 passengers and crew members on board). The expert opinion on the criminal case consisted of 12 volumes. William Worms lost his navigational license and was sentenced to two years in prison, Aban Abbott received four.George Rogers, in turn, suddenly became a national hero, the Congress awarded him the gold medal "For Bravery".
Soon Rodgers left the naval service and left for his hometown, where he began to work as the head of a radio workshop in the police department. His fame gradually faded away, and until 1953 he disappeared from the radar. Until again, he was on the front pages, but in a completely different light.
Rogers was accused of murdering 83-year-old typesetter typography William Hummel and his adopted daughter Edith. During the investigation, shocking facts unexpectedly came to light. Rogers was a Pyromaniac and the cause of the death of the Morro Castle airliner, he also poisoned Captain Wilmott.
It was found that an hour before the departure of the ship from Havana, the captain, seeing the head of the radio station with two bottles of some chemicals, ordered to throw them overboard. Wilmott and Rogers have long feuded, and the crazy radio operator, as it turned out, decided to poison the captain. He poured potent poison into food, and when Wilmott passed away, he set fire to the ship using time bombs. He turned off the fire detection system and poured gasoline.
Rogers was given a life sentence.Four years later, he died in prison from a heart attack.