EDHS News and Updates

"Survivor Story": Clara & Emma Reisner

Chicago, Illinois -- Clara and Emma Reisner boarded the Eastland and found chairs at the back of the ship near the railing. When the ship tipped so easily and smoothly, Clara did not get excited or panic. "I didn't think it was so serious," she said. "I didn't think we or anyone else would drown. I was going to grab for my purse, but Emma said, 'Forget the purse. Can't you see the boat is going down?'"         

The two sisters were not on the side of the ship that went into the water, and when the Eastland started to tip, Emma told Clara to grab onto the railing. The chairs that they had been sitting on rolled away and slid off the side. They held onto the railing, and the water was up to their knees.

Clara said she could see and hear people in the water, bobbing and screaming. Workmen began throwing boxes and pieces of wood into the water to help the people float, but the objects hit several people on the head.

Fire boats were there within minutes, and the two sisters were two of the first to be rescued. Clara told the rescuers to grab Emma first because she had just had an appendectomy three weeks before and was getting weak.

Once safely ashore, they began looking for a phone to call home and tell everyone they were safe, but they couldn't get to one because of the crowd, so they boarded a streetcar and were home by noon. Full story

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