Photo: Students from Maine South react as Chicago Police/Fire attempt to rescue a man who jumped into the Chicago River at Clark St. Friday, April 20, 2012. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times
Jim Lonergan was standing along the Chicago River telling his high school students about a nearly 100-year-old disaster when a real one unfolded before their eyes.
Lonergan, an English teacher at Maine South High School in Park Ridge, said he was recounting the sinking of the SS Eastland. The ship was docked at the Clark Street bridge in 1915 when it rolled over, killing 844 passengers and crew.
“I was in the middle of my tale about the Eastland disaster when a guy jumped into the river,” Lonergan said.
“One of my students said, ‘Someone is standing on the rail of the bridge.’ I turned around and saw the splash.”
Lonergan said his students called 911 while he sprinted down the bridge looking for help for the man, who plunged into the Chicago River shortly after 10:30 a.m.
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