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Fred Schwerin on: The Collision
Fred Schwerin Q: They're almost there, they're almost to America, when the collision happens. What's the impact on the "Florida"? What happens immediately after?

FS: Well the event takes place in the dark, at night. It's, I believe very early in the morning actually but it's at that hour when you expect things to be quiet. And here the ship slams into another ship with obviously great force and clamor, and I don't think that very many people, if any aside from the captain and a handful of officers, had any idea of what had taken place. The passengers and steerage group are all below deck. They can't see what happened. Rumor immediately kicks in and panic ensues. I mean, I would say sheer panic.

Q: They must have felt like it was another earthquake all over again.

FS: Yes, you have people who have just been through a devastating traumatic experience, feeling perhaps fortunate that they have survived the earthquake, on their way with some hope to the New World, and lo and behold slam, they are in a situation that in some people's mind could be worst than the earthquake that they had just experienced. I don't think they had any idea of what they were confronted with, and I think that they were highly traumatized to begin with, and now probably super-traumatized.

From all accounts you have people who don't know what's happened panicked. Rumor is rampant as to what could be happening presumably that the ship, the "Florida," is sinking. They have to begin to lower life boats to take passengers from the other ship, from the "Republic". They have to use the life boats from the "Florida" to help in the transport of people from the other ship, and yet you have a group of highly traumatized people who don't really know what's happening, seeing this activity and panicking to the point where they themselves think that they ought to rush for the boats and save themselves...

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