'Saw the train hanging off the bridge:' Good Samaritans help injured Amtrak passengers
DUPONT, Wash - Some of the first people on the scene of Monday morning's deadly Amtrak derailment that killed three people near DuPont were two Good Samaritans who rushed in to help.
Dan Konzelman said he and his girlfriend, Alicia Hoverson, were on their way to work in Olympia around 7:30 a.m. when they saw Amtrak Train 501 moving along the tracks that run parallel to Interstate 5.
"Probably 45 seconds later there’s a traffic jam," he said. "I’m like, ‘this is weird there’s never traffic here,’ and I saw the train kind of hanging off the bridge. I was like, 'that’s weird,' and then I realized 'oh, this is a train crash, this is the real deal.'"
Konzelman said they parked their car, he put on some boots and a headlamp and they ran to help.
"You’re sort of scared and trying to prepare yourself for the worst, hope for the best sort of thing," he said. "The trains, a lot were tipped over on the side, and some of them, the roofs had ripped or collapsed."
Konzelma climbed up a tree that had fallen, then into the one of the cars through a broken window.
He said there was glass everywhere, but the emergency training he learned as a Boy Scout kicked in.
"The first two were fine, we just walked in. On the second train, a wall had collapsed so we had to belly crawl through whatever was there," he said. "There was a couple of people who were pinned from the waist down and there's nothing you can do for them, really. So I just tried to stay with them and calm them down. "
Konzelman said he and his girlfriend then began escorting disoriented passengers one at a time down from the train and walking them to medics arriving on scene.
"Some had trouble breathing, a lot had head injuries," said Konzelman. "A lot of the people didn’t look good. They were drenched in blood and were pretty seriously injured."
"A lot of them were cold and scared, so I was able to just pray with them," said Hoverson. "Talking with people, comforting them, praying with them, that was all I could do."
Konzelman said they helped about 15 people out of the train as first responders took over.
Hoverson said some of the injured passengers were college students who had just finished finals and were heading home for the holidays, others they helped were traveling across country.
"Keep praying, there’s a lot of people who are going to continue hurting and they’re going to be in the hospital for a while, and their families are probably hurting too," said Hoverson.
The State Department of Transportation said I-5 will likely be closed at least through the morning commute on Tuesday, or longer while the NTSB investigates.
Amtrak has established a toll-free number, 1-800-523-9101 for family and friends to call for information about loved ones aboard the train.
KOMO News at STAR 101.5 are holding a blood drive through Bloodworks Northwest to help the victims of the train crash. Donors can stop by the bloodmobile outside KOMO Plaza from 8:00 a.m. tp 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 19. To Schedule an appointment, CLICK HERE.