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Mr. and Mrs. James Peterson Personal Account


Washed Through Boat

J. Peterson of 2207 North Kenneth Avenue, his wife, Mrs. Jenny Peterson, and her sister, Miss Mabel Gunderson of 2144 North Kedvale Avenue, were on the second deck on the side next to the river and endured the miraculous experience of being washed completely through the boat after a partition had given way.

"We were standing near the rail a little toward the front of the boat," said Peterson.  "I could see down either into the engine room or the barroom.  The first thing I heard was something that sounded like beer cases falling over.  I dropped my cane and it went slipping across the deck toward the cabin.  I leaned over to reach for it but before I could grab it I was kicking about in the water."

"I can swim, and I rose with the water.  The partition above me gave way, at least some of the windows did, and I went up through the cabin.  I caught hold of a long beam supporting the upper deck, with some others.  This beam gave way, though, and I had to swim again."

"One man who had been hanging on with only his nose, eyes, and mouth out of water disappeared when the beam broke, and I didnít see him again.  The water rose some more, and I leaped and caught another two by four.  I saw women and men come up all around me, and a lot of them went down again.  There were about twenty near me who were saved."

"While I was hanging there my wife came up right where I had.  She had her hat and coat on and was holding a dollar bill in one hand.  I helped her to hold on to a piece of wood and said, 'Now hold on there, Jenny, donít move.'"

Neither Could Swim

"Just then Mabel came up where my wife had appeared.  I donít see how either one of them ever was saved, for neither can swim.  The strange part of it was that when Mabel came up she had a life preserver strapped about her body.  She said she had found it floating near her and had asked a girl to tie it on her.  Just as the girl was doing this, Mabel said she slid off into the water and was gone.  Jenny and Mabel evidently had been carried up by the swirl of the water through the same break in the partition I had passed through."

"When the police came we were about ten feet below the wire screen on the upper side.  They let ropes down and pulled Jenny and Mabel up.  I helped the police draw up the women.  There was an excited man who told me his wife had been saved and pleaded to be allowed to go up next.  I saw a woman holding a baby in her arms and I snatched the rope from him.  I gave it to the woman and told her how to fasten it.  She was pulled up still holding the baby."


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