April 16, 1893
The Morning Call, San Francisco, Monday, April 17, 1893
|A BRIDE'S BALLOON
The Woman Parachutist's Dread Ascent.
DASHED AGAINST A HOUSE.
A Balloon Catches Fire and Is Borne
Blazing Over the Roofs—The Victim's Condition.
A thousand people witnessed a terrible scene at the Cliff House
A young woman, utterly powerless to assist herself, was borne aloft
clinging to a burning balloon, and was dashed with cruel force
against a neighboring building.
Both her lower limbs were instantly broken and other severe and
possibly fatal injuries sustained.
The fearful suddenness of the catastrophe, the spectacle of the
hapless woman and the blazing machine, inextricably connected, and
both at the mercy of a headlong gale combined to produce a thrilling
spectacle that will leave an indelible impression upon the minds of
its horrified witnesses.
An additional element of pathos was lent to the sad affair by the
circumstances surrounding its victim. She had only been a bride a
few weeks, and appears to have had a strange presentiment against
making the ascent.
A balloon ascension bad been advertised to take place at 2:30 pm,
the aeronaut to be "King of the Clouds." This meant Frank Hagal. In
his place his bride of six weeks, Lillie Hagal, appeared.
A fierce wind blowing landward rendered it necessary to raise a
windbreak of canvas. This was lowered once, as the ropes holding it
were found unable to bear the strain. In spite of the windbreak it
required the services of twenty or thirty men and boys to hold the
balloon as it tilled with hot air from the furnace below.
As it writhed and twisted in their grasp the aeronaut, clad in gaudy
blue cotton tights, fastened herself to the parachute with which she
was to descend. From time to time she would glance anxiously at the
swelling balloon, but she said nothing.
As the balloon filled, a voice from behind the screen was lizard to
cry: "Let her go. She'll catch fire."
"Hold her," shouted Hagal; "she's not full yet."
But the first call had done its work. A dozen men had loosed their
hold. The pulley on the land side was held loner than the one the
side toward the sea. The supporting pole on the east fell. The wind
was blowing fiercely toward the land. Everything tended to keep the
balloon from going directly upward.
As it rose from the ground Hagal leaped for the ropes, crying:
"For God's sake, men, hold it! For God's sake, don't leave go!"
A gust of wind pulled the rope from his grasp, and, as the balloon
was held for the moment over the furnace, the flames caught the
As it rose burning, the gaping crowd at first seemed amused at the
woman's endeavors to free herself. Their amusement speedily changed
to anxiety, then to horror, as they saw the balloon rise and be
dashed toward the large building at the terminus of the railroad.
For an instant it seemed as if it would pass over the building with
its human freight.
Then an involuntary "Oh!" came from the horror-stricken assemblage
as the woman was dashed against the side of the building, smashing
in the frame and glass of a window. The balloon passed just over the
The now unconscious woman was dragged over the building, striking
the house again and breaking a window in the next story.
By this time the flames had eaten a great hole in the side of the
balloon. The hot air escaping, it descended so that the ropes
balding Mrs. Hagal were caught in the eaves of an adjoining
She hung, suspended about twelve feet from the ground for several
minutes. A man then mounted the roof and severed the ropes binding
her to the parachute, and the limp, lifeless body fell into the arms
of her distracted husband beneath.
She was carried to the kitchen of a neighboring restaurant. There it
was found that she was yet alive, but as she was carried to the
train, her lower limbs dangling helplessly revealed the fact that
both were broken below the hips. This fracture must have been made
when she struck the building the first time.
Mrs. Hagal is a slight, pretty young woman, about 25 years old. She
is quiet and retiring and is well liked.
A young lady in speaking of the matter said: "Next Friday will make
six weeks that Lillie has been married. They had only been married a
few days when Mr. Hagal asked her how she would like to go up in a
balloon. She thought he was fooling and said she thought it would be
"His response was, 'All right; you shall go up next Sunday.'
"When she found he was in earnest she didn't like to eat her words,
so she made the ascent. It was a failure though, because she was so
scared she didn't have the strength to pull the rope that loosed the
"The second and third ascensions were all right. This was the
fourth. She didn't want to go up at all. She told Frank [her
husband] that the wind was blowing too hard, and that it was too
cold. But he said it was all right, and for her to get ready.
"It's a drawing card to have a woman make ascension, and the
railroad people paid him extra for that. But he was advertised to go
up this time, and 1don't see why he didn't do it."
"Just fifteen minutes before the balloon went up," said another
young lady, whose eyes were red with crying, "Lillie ran down to her
husband to ask him if she must go up. He said yes, to she came back
and got dressed".
Frank Hagal, when seen late in the evening, said that the balloon
was loosed too soon.
"It was not nearly full. Besides, the ropes were not loosed
properly, though I had told the man how to do it a dozen times.
"The balloon caught fire, but that would not have mattered if the
balloon had only been buoyant enough to have risen high from
| the ground. I have often gone up with the
balloon on fire and made successful leap."
The injured woman was carried to the Receiving Hospital. Here it was
found that both legs were broken midway between the hip and knee,
and there was a long cut in the right leg. There were several
bruises on the face. The nose was torn open, but the bone was not
broken. She was treated by Dr. Kaufman, who says that with good
treatment she may recover, as she shows remarkable vitality, and the
shock of the accident does not seen to have seriously affected her.
There are a few bruises about the body and there may be some
internal injuries not yet apparent. The effects of such a fearful
shock to a delicate woman are especially feared.
Mrs. Hagal before her marriage was known as Lillie Dean, and was a
waitress in one of the downtown restaurants.
When Mrs. Hagal struck against the second house, the balloon, being
held fast, was blown to the ground by the wind. There it was burned
A woman, whose name could not be learned, in her eagerness to see
the injured balloonist, stepped into the tire. In an instant her
clothes were ablaze. She ran shrieking into a house, where some
thoughtful person wrapped her in a tablecloth and extinguished the
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The Morning Call, San Francisco, Monday, April 24, 1893
SUTRO SAYS NO.
He Positively Refuses to Allow Balloon Ascensions at
There will be no more balloon ascensions from the
Adolph Sutro has ordered the railroad company to
remove their poles and other paraphernalia from his grounds. The
danger accompanying an ascent from any place about the Cliff is the
reason he gives for his action. There is always a strong breeze
blowing toward land in the afternoon and the slightest accident to
the balloon renders a repetition of last Sunday's accident liable.
Therefore Mr. Sutro has positively refused to allow any more
ascensions to be made from his property.
As he owns all the land west of Baker's Beach this
means that the exhibitions at the Cliff are a thing of the past.
Mrs. Hagal, the injured balloonist, who had both her
legs broken in the accident at the beach, is steadily improving.
There were no internal injuries, as it was feared there might be.
The doctors say that in two months she be well enough
to be removed from the hospital. It will be nearly six months before
she will be able in walk.
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Oswego Daily Times - May 18 1898