An Eagle Scout who crawled through shattered train cars to aid injured passengers after a deadly Amtrak crash south of Seattle was among the heroes from the tragedy Monday.
Authorities say at least three people were killed when the train roared onto an overpass at 50 mph above the speed limit before tumbling onto the crowded interstate below.
Daniel Konzelman told The Seattle Times he was driving to work with his girlfriend, Alicia Hoverson, when he noticed a train hurtling along the tracks paralleling Interstate 5 before the tracks curve up and over the highway.
“I’d never seen a train going that fast,” Konzelman said. “I drive that stretch every day.”
Moments later, I-5 became a parking lot as drivers slammed on their brakes.
“I looked up and saw the train was hanging off,” Konzelman said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this was major.’”
Survivors of a deadly train crash in Washington state described being thrown from seats, climbing through twisted rail cars and jumping to safety Monday morning. The Amtrak train they rode in was on a first run from Seattle to Portland. (Dec 18) AP
Konzelman, 24, earned the rank of Eagle Scout a few years ago and said he was able to tap into his first-aid training. He and Hoverson helped some of the injured walk down a slope to the interstate in the pre-dawn darkness.
Then he and a police officer began climbing into the battered rail cars helping people injured or trapped in the wreckage. They found a train attendant who was unable to move.
“He was shivering and freezing from shock,” Konzelman said. They helped him and more than a dozen other victims, he told the Times.
“A lot of them had broken ankles,” he said. “I think they were in so much shock they couldn’t feel anything. Almost all of them had head injuries and a lot of blood flowing.”
A soldier from nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord saw the Amtrak train plunge from the overpass and jumped into action to help save the people trapped inside.
“I saw many people that were just paralyzed with fear and I don’t blame them at all,” Second Lt. Robert McCoy told q13fox.com. “It was kind of a hard situation to watch unfold.”
Neurosurgeon Nathan Selden said he was driving to Seattle with his college-age son when they came upon the scene. Selden told the Associated Press he joined a group at a medical triage tent while his son helped carry supplies.
He expressed awe at the efforts of the skilled, dedicated first responders around him.
“We were very close to the trains and it was a chaotic scene but a scene of complete purpose,” Selden said. “Everybody knew what the goal was.”