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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Catholic priest recalls death of mother, daughter who died in lifeboat after ship was torpedoed by German submarine

More details emerged about the deaths of Mrs. Mary E. Hoy and her daughter, Miss Elizabeth Hoy, lately of Spokane, when the liner Laconia was torpedoed by a German submarine, The Spokesman-Review reported on March 1, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)
More details emerged about the deaths of Mrs. Mary E. Hoy and her daughter, Miss Elizabeth Hoy, lately of Spokane, when the liner Laconia was torpedoed by a German submarine, The Spokesman-Review reported on March 1, 1917. (Spokesman-Review archives)

More details emerged about the deaths of Mrs. Mary E. Hoy and her daughter, Miss Elizabeth Hoy, lately of Spokane, when the liner Laconia was torpedoed by a German submarine.

Father Dunstan Sergeant, Catholic priest, had been in the same lifeboat.

“The steamer was listing to port, he said. “Our boat was one of the last to be lowered. There were 22 of us in it. Mrs. Hoy and her daughter and Miss Siklosi, an actress, were the only women.”

Because the ship was listing so badly, the lifeboat scraped the side of the ship as it was being lowered, caving in part of the boat’s side.

Suddenly, a second torpedo struck the Laconia, the ship lunged, and the boat fell into the water and was immediately swamped.

The boat drifted away, with everyone up to their waists in water. The icy waves kept battering them and everyone began to weaken from the cold and exposure. A relief ship came in their direction, and they “yelled until our throats were hoarse,” but the ship could neither hear them nor see them.

Everyone began to feel sleepy and numb from the cold. Miss Hoy was holding her mother and patting her on the cheek, “urging her not to go to sleep,” but her mother was not asleep. She was dead.

Not long afterward, both women were “floating in the boat.” Other passengers tried to lift them out of the water, but they were dead.

Several others died before daylight came and a relief boat finally found the drifting lifeboat.

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