Image from the Wisconsin Historical Society
A Leap for Life.
The Racine, Wis., Journal relates the following incident:
Last Friday afternoon, Chas. Hoyt, an engineer on the Western Union Road, and a friend of his, named Jno. Olin, had an adventure which nearly lost them their lives. They were looking at the break in the bridge over Turtle Creek, which had been caused by the freshet. While standing there, the workmen undertook to move a pile driver. Charley and his friend went to assist them, but while moving, the machine tipped over, and the lower, or upright part, was coming directly where Hoyt and Olin were standing. To retreat was impossible, to stand still was to be crushed, there was only one chance for life, and that was to jump into the water, twenty-five feet below. How slight that chance seemed, as one looked upon that seething, boiling mass of water, filled with great cakes of floating ice, that, as they swept by, were crushed and jammed together. Still it was the only chance.
Hoyt was the first to leap; Olin delayed until near too late. As the latter sprang, he was struck upon the head by the edge of one of the beams, which inflicted a frightful gash. The dark waters closed upon them, and when they arose they were far down the stream, which swept them along with a force irresistible. Then began the terrible struggle for life. Yielding to the current, they endeavored to reach the land further down the stream. Now it seemed as though they were gaining, when they would be swept back into the center of the stream, or struck by the floating ice and driven under water. Thus, for nearly half an hour, did they battle for life, and at last, when nearly exhausted and gone, they managed to get on some floating ice that had been lodged, and over this precarious footing made their way to shore, nearly a mile below the spot where they took their wild leap.
Alton Weekly Telegraph (Alton, Illinois) Apr 26, 1867