Boy Scout heroes help passengers on derailed train
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY/NBC) – Two dozen passengers on the Amtrak train that derailed in Missouri Monday are from the Appleton area. Sixteen Boy Scouts and eight adult leaders were on their way home from a 10-day backpacking trip in New Mexico when their train collided with a dump truck on an uncontrolled crossing.
Three of the leaders remained hospitalized Tuesday, but all are expected to recover. The 16 scouts and rest of the leaders spent the day at a hotel in Columbia, Missouri. They received help from local scout moms in Missouri, and they boarded a chartered plane for Green Bay just before 5:30 P.M. They’re expected to land shortly after 6:30.
Action 2 News talked with two of the Boy Scouts on Tuesday. Isaac Berken and Owen Tierney, both 15 years old, were sitting next to each other in the last train car when Berken says he felt a jolt.
“My first thought is, it must be some sort of turbulence because we had turbulence in the past or ‘train-bulance,’ and it was more than normal, so I took hold of the seat to support myself and I was like something is wrong,” he said.
The jolt woke Tierney up from his nap.
”Right after I woke up the car started shaking, kind of, and it felt like we were switching tracks, and then it started to shake a little bit more and it leaned to the side and that’s when I knew it shouldn’t be leaning that much. And then that’s when everything kind of started to fall over.”
After the initial shock, the Scouts along with the other passengers checked on each other.
“I consoled people, I comforted people, I did a little bit of first aid,” Berken said.
Then they worked on getting themselves out of the overturned train car.
“Within a minute we had scouts trying to find the emergency window. They pushed it open, and then one by one we started having people crawl out of there. And then, by the time I got to the top — technically the side but right on top of the train — I saw all the train cars that were gone and that’s when I realized like, holy cow, that’s actually what happened,” Tierney said.
Berken said he and others walked along what was now the top of the overturned train, checking on other passengers and helping where they could.
Tierney said, “I was walking on the side of the car, there was a door that was open on the side, so I was able to get in there and I helped some people get out of there and walk them down to the end of the train where they could get off and get down to the intersection.”
Some of the scouts met up with the train’s engineer, who gave them water to hand out.
It wasn’t until they were away from the crash site that reality sunk in.
”Ever since the adrenaline wore off, at the triage station at the school, I broke down,” Berken told us, “because I realized I couldn’t help anyone, I couldn’t do anything more. I was so upset. But we move, we keep going, it’s what you gotta do in a situation like this. You gotta stay strong.”
Berken said after a while he was OK. Now they’re relying on one another for support as they realize what they’ve been through.
“We’ve become brothers,” Berken said.
The scouts say a lot of the attention is being put on them as helpers, but they want to give credit to others on the train. They said everyone who was capable of coming to the aid of others did, and everyone came together to help. They’re so grateful for the kindness and support of the others as they deal with this tragedy.
We can tell you, there will be lots of hugs once the scouts get home.