..."It was like one big scream and then everything was quiet"...
Willard Brown was sitting near the pilothouse wondering why the boat's captain was acting nervous, chewing on a cigar. He remembers the Eastland tipping. "It made three tips to the dock and three tips to the river...terribly slow. It seemed like it took a minute for each tip," he recollected.
When the Eastland rolled, Brown said, "It was like one big scream and then everything was quiet. I grabbed the hand rail...I was like a monkey on a barrel and headed for the side of the boat."
Brown said he watched as men tried to make it to shore "hand-over-hand" on a rope strung "like a fiddle" from the boat to the dock. "They'd make it halfway, lose their grip and go down into the water. People were crushed by pianos and things and people crowding on top of each other," he said.