Newspaper article published in 1981
BOSTON (UPI) - The couple was relaxing in a darkened dining room,
engrossed in the movie "Fox Fire" when people started screaming as ashtrays and
chairs flew around the room.
"I remember it was near the end of the movie starring Jeff
Chandler and Jane Russell," recalled Beatrice Bucci LeClair of Beverly Mass. "I
was sitting on an end seat and I grabbed hold of a table that was bolted to the floor. I
thought "'This is it."
Mrs. LeClair was returning to the United States from Naples where
she had been visiting her brother on a U.S. Navy base. A registered nurse by profession,
Mrs. LeClair said filmgoers were jolted as the ship listed suddenly at the time of the
crash. The room filled with smoke. Chaos erupted.
"People were screaming and ashtrays were flying." She
said. "My first impression was that we were on fire. Although Mrs. LeClair's date
tried to pry her from the table she was clinging to, she said "panic" prevented
her from moving. "He just ran," she said of her companion whom she never saw
Hours later, bewildered adult passengers shinned down ropes to the
lifeboats. Mrs. LeClair helped toss babies and children off the boat into blankets held by
The years have dulled Mrs. LeClair's memory of the accident, but she
said it had a lasting effect on her life. "It made me understand what happens in
life, God spared me for something."