Erik L. Swangren

...pulled his wife out of the water by her hair...

Erik L. Swangren was a Western Electric employee who had emigrated from Sweden. Before coming to the United States, Erik was a sailor on several ships that traveled the Atlantic and Pacific.

Erik boarded the Eastland with his wife Emma Selig Swangren. Emma's parents William and Bertha Selig, her brothers Frank and Edward, and Frank's fiancé Louise Schmidt were also on board.

Erik was a strong swimmer, which was crucial on the day of the tragedy; he saved Emma from the water by pulling her out by her hair. He dove back into the frigid muddy waters of the Chicago River numerous times, searching for the rest of the family, and rescuing others along the way until authorities stopped him. Sadly, Erik and Emma lost the entire family that day. Emma recalled watching in horror as her brother Frank went down with his wife-to-be Louise.

Emma was several months pregnant at the time, and their daughter was born the following January; the couple named her Elaine Bertha Swangren.

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