Linda Morgan Cianfarria Hardberger
, Linda with her husband in May 2007.
1942 (1942), Mexico City, Mexico
San Antonio, Texas
Linda Morgan (born 1942 in Mexico City, Mexico), now known as Linda Hardberger, became known as the "miracle girl" following the collision of two large passenger ships in the North Atlantic Ocean on the foggy night of July 25, 1956.
The 14-year-old girl was sharing a two-bed cabin with her younger half-sister on the S.S. Andrea Doria when the ship was struck broadside by the prow of the MS Stockholm. During the collision, she was somehow lifted out of her bed and onto the Stockholm's crushed bow, landing safely behind a bulwark as the two ships scraped past each other before separating as the fatally-stricken Andrea Doria disappeared back into the fog.
In the ensuing confusion, a Stockholm crewman heard her calling for her mother in Spanish, an unusual language on the Swedish ship. A crewman who spoke Spanish was able to translate. The teen apparently was first to grasp what must have happened, saying to 36-year-old Bernabe Polanco Garcia, "I was on the Andrea Doria. Where am I now?"
The sister sleeping in the adjoining bed in Linda's cabin was killed, one of 50 passengers and crew who died in the impact areas on the two ships. After all the surviving passengers and crew were evacuated by several rescue ships (most notably the S.S. Ile de France), the Andrea Doria capsized and sank the next morning. With ships of several nations transporting survivors, communication of news to the waiting families was difficult. Linda Morgan and her younger sister were both listed among missing passengers in the early reports.
Linda's father, ABC Radio Network news commentator Edward P. Morgan, was based in New York City. On his daily broadcast, he reported a memorable account of the collision of the ocean liners, not telling his thousands of listeners that his daughter had been aboard the Andrea Doria and was believed to have been killed.
Linda, who suffered a broken arm, was quickly dubbed the "miracle girl" by the news media as the story of her survival and the circumstances spread. She returned to New York City aboard the crippled Stockholm, where she was reunited with her mother and her father. Edward Morgan then made another memorable broadcast less able to conceal his emotions, describing the difference between reporting the news about strangers and his own loved ones, and describing also the extremes of despair, joy, and gratitude that he had experienced.
Linda Morgan was admitted to St. Vincent's Hospital in New York where her broken arm was placed in traction. When Polanco, her Spanish-speaking crewman friend, was on a weekend leave from the Stockholm, he went to the hospital to pay a visit. Sister Loretta Bernard, administrator of the hospital, gave Polanco a Miraculous Medal Of Our Lady. Then Linda's father, who had also worked in Mexico, greeted him with a hearty embrace. "Hombre, hombre" said Mr. Morgan, "Man, man how can I ever thank you?"
The young teenager suffered from survivor's guilt, as her stepfather and younger half-sister had been killed, and her mother grievously injured while she had been spared. Linda moved to San Antonio, Texas in 1970. Her husband since 1968, Phil Hardberger, became Mayor of San Antonio in June 2005.