..."Mom, the boat tipped over and I can't find Dad!"...
Joseph A. Suerth, 16, and his father, Nicholas, were on the top deck of the Eastland. Joe stayed on deck with a friend while his dad went below. Not being able to swim, Joe went to the high side of the Eastland when it started to list. He climbed over the railing and onto the hull as the Eastland capsized, barely getting his pants' legs wet.
Joe and his friend immediately started pulling people from the water. Joe's friend would dive into the water and bring a person to the ship, where Joe would pull them onto the exposed side of the vessel to safety. This efficient twosome pulled six people out of the water in this manner, but on the seventh try, his friend did not return.
A boat later came alongside and ferried Joe as well as other survivors to shore. Joe waited in a long line to use a telephone to call home. Finally his turn came and he was quickly connected to Belmont 2207. The message to his mother was brief: "Mom, the boat tipped over and I can't find Dad!" Joseph lost his beloved father, Nicholas, that fateful day.