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Opinion >  Column

100 years ago in Spokane: A man looked like ‘a large turtle’ after jumping into the icy Spokane River to prove a point

UPDATED: Fri., Nov. 6, 2020

 (S-R archives )
(S-R archives )

A.B. Lacey jumped from the guard rail of the Division Street bridge and plunged into the icy Spokane River – but he was not trying to end it all.

He was demonstrating a new “life-saving suit,” and the suit passed the test perfectly.

Lacey was a former Gonzaga athlete and naval aviator during the war. While a crowd of 200 watched, he walked onto the bridge and donned the “ever-warm safety suit” over his clothing. The exterior was black rubber and the interior was lined with a material said to be lighter than cork. It was designed to safeguard mariners at sea.

Lacey paused on the railing for a few moments, and someone shouted, “Don’t get cold feet.”

“You bet I won’t,” Lacey responded. “That is what I am here to show you that I can not get.”

Then he leapt 70 feet into the river while the crowd cheered.

“The buoyancy in the suit brought the man almost immediately to the surface and and the strong current quickly carried him downstream,” The Spokesman-Review wrote. “The safety suit seemed to puff out over the swimmer’s breast as he floated calmly on his back, giving him the appearance of a large turtle. Lacey then turned face downward and swam to shore.”

When he clambered ashore and took off the suit, neither the “shine on his shoes or the starch in his collar” had been damaged by moisture.

On this day

(From Associated Press)

1917: Russia’s Bolshevik Revolution took place as forces led by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin overthrew the provisional government of Alexander Kerensky.

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