Chicago, Illinois -- Daniel Johan Reuther left his west side home and boarded the Douglas Park El at the Pulaski station to join his Western Electric co-workers for a fun cruise to Michigan City, Indiana. His wife Charlotte Elizabeth (Friers) Reuther, and their two young children, Marion Elizabeth (5) and Daniel George (7) were left at home. Charlotte was adamant that she and the children would not go on the cruise.
The news came back to the Reuther family through the neighborhood by word of mouth over backyard fences that the Eastland had capsized in the Chicago River, and that many were dead. Charlotte was almost in shock over the news and the two small children were inconsolable. Daniel couldn’t swim, and the family assumed that he had died.
Late in the afternoon Daniel staggered home, clothes soaked with filthy water. He had taken the El and streetcar back home. He said the rescue workers noticed him almost by chance. “That little black-haired guy over there is still alive. Get him out!” one of them said. Daniel was one of the last to be rescued.
As anticipated, soon thereafter Daniel got terribly ill and was in bed for two weeks. Amazingly, the severe bacterial infection didn’t kill him. He recovered fully and would live in good health to age 86. But for the rest of his life, Daniel would never get on a boat of any kind, even a rowboat on a pond.