PANIC AT RECITAL ~ Someone Shouted Fire When a Woman Fainted.

September 6, 1907




Audience at Conservatory of Music
and Art Thrown Into an Uproar
When Two Women Tumbled
Down the Stairs -- Sever-
al Trampled On.

Two women falling down stairs was the cause of a panic at an assistant teachers' recital at the Conservatory of Music and Art at Tenth and Oak streets last night. The commotion on the stairs, which led down from a small hallway entering into the hall where the recital was in progress, attracted the attention of those near the door. Some one suggested it was a fight. Several ushers rushed out and the remark was carried on in whispers across the room until someone, misunderstanding the original word, screamed "fire."

Miss Pearl Collins was singing Tosti's "Ninon." Her voice was drowned in the clamor that followed. In an instant almost the entire audience was on its feet and a wild scramble for the door was already started when J. A. Cowan, president of the institution, rushed upon the stage and shouted to the people to keep their seats, assuring them that there is no cause for alarm.

Several people were knocked down and would have doubtless been trampled on in another moment had not the panic been quelled when it was. While Mr. Cowan was shouting assurances from the stage the janitor of the building was attempting to quiet the people in the back of the hall.

The hall was crowded to its capacity and many people stood outside the door, making it impossible for those inside to know what was transpiring a few feet behind them. The unusual feature of the incident was that almost as soon as Mr. Cowan appeared and began to talk to the audience, the panic ceased and most of the people resumed their seats in apparent composure. The programme was then carried out.

Neither of the women -- a young girl and an elderly matron -- who caused the panic was seriously hurt. They had been sitting together during the recital and during Miss Collins' solo, the girl became ill and left the room. The other woman accompanied her and just as they reached the head of the stairs, the girl fainted. In falling she pulled her companion with her and the two started to roll down the steps toward the street door. The janitor, who was standing near, succeeded in catching the girl when she was about half way down, but the older woman rolled to the bottom, receiving several bruises and a cut across the bridge of her nose. The young woman received some minor bruises.