Chicago, IL Eastland Disaster, Jul 1915 - Heroes


Leaps into River and Brings Ashore Many Men, Women and Children

Chicago--One of the heroes was Charles Williams, agent for a New York concern. Mr. Williams was brought to attention by a fireman engaged in bringing bodies out of the hull of the capsized steamer. Williams reluctantly consented to relate his story of the numerous rescues he effected.

"I was with a young man in the employ of Reid, Murdoch & Co.," said Mr. Williams, "and we were just crossing the Clark street bridge when my attention was called to the Eastland, which was then careening into the water.

"I leaped into the water and the first person that I reached was a man who was choking and crying for help. I swam to him and when I came up to him he threw his arms around my neck in a death grip. I knew that the only thing to do to shake him off was to skin, which I did.

"Then he let go of me and we rose to the surface. I came up behind him and him in the neck. He became unconscious and I swam to shore with him, where spectators on the dock helped me get him out of the water.

"Next I pulled out a young lady dressed in a pink suit.

"A patrol boat then came along and a man on it yelled to me that a young lady had just gone down for the third time at a certain spot. I dived, got her and took her to shore, where she, too, was revived.

"By that time there were no more people visible in the water, so I swam to the Eastland and worked my way up on top of the hull, where I assisted four firemen in taking bodies out of apertures that had been chopped through several places. We took out at least fifty bodies, mostly women and children, although there were about a dozen men."

The Daily Herald, Chicago, IL 30 Jul 1915



Reginald Bowles, an amateur diver, who, working in an ordinary bathing suit, did heroic work in bringing up the bodies of the victims of the overturned Eastland. He entered into state rooms and between the decks where the divers were unable to go because of their equipment. Single handed he brought more than fifty bodies to the surface on Sunday.

Fort Wayne News, Fort Wayne, IN 29 Jul 1915