A soldier from Joint Base Lewis-McChord says he saw the Amtrak train plunge from an overpass in Monday’s crash 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. I mean, it was kind of a hard situation to watch unfold.”
Second Lt. Robert McCoy hit the brakes on his pickup truck just in time, he told KTLA sister station KCPQ in Seattle.
“The train is going south and I’m just kind of driving, just driving, and I hear a loud noise and I look up and I see the train and it hits the concrete walls on the side and when it hits the walls — the walls kind of exploded — and the train just falls off. I see the train fall and it kind of falls on itself … and it hits three vehicles that were in front of me — a semi, an F-150, and a Kia Soul.”
The soldier serves in the Army’s medical field and he knew he had to do something.
“I remembered I had a tourniquet and a CPR mask in my truck and I grabbed those and I took off toward the accident. There were individuals who had been ejected from the train onto the pavement. And so my first initial thought was, I don’t know how stable this is. If this train continues to fall, it’s gonna fall on these individuals.”
McCoy said he carried many of the ejected passengers out of the road to safety and then turned his attention to the people trapped inside the dangling train car.
“I heard people in there asking for help and stuff,” he said. “There were people yelling, there was people looking for each other, looking for loved ones.”
McCoy says he and another volunteer climbed on top of the damaged semi, and then onto the suspended rail car. Inside, he said, he found 20 to 30 passengers, including a family, whose grandmother was partially dangling outside the train car.
“She was kind at the end here, dangling out, but another downed rail car was right here. Her daughter kind of pulled her out backward and I just reached under her and picked her up and put her down on some form of safe structure.”
Throughout his efforts, McCoy took photos from inside the teetering rail car.
“I couldn’t afford to be scared, I couldn’t afford to be shocked. I had to do what I am called to do and focus and channel that and help these people around me get to safety as best as possible.”