Passengers saved after train stuck in Oregon for day and a half

The Coast Starlight train had struck a tree that had fallen onto the tracks

An Amtrak train with almost 200 people aboard hit downed trees during a blizzard and got stranded in the Oregon mountains for a day and a half, but passengers and crew banded together during the ordeal that ended Tuesday.

“It was really nice to meet people pulling together,” passenger Tracy Rhodes, of Scottsdale, Arizona, said in a phone interview after the train that had been travelling from Seattle to Los Angeles rolled back into Eugene, Oregon. Passengers spilled out, some waving their arms high in jubilation.

During the 36 hours that the train was stuck, younger passengers helped older ones reach their families to let them know they were all right, said Rhodes, who was travelling with her brother to visit their 82-year-old mother in Klamath Falls, Oregon. A “mom brigade” was formed to take care of and entertain the children, she said.

“People were being very kind to each other, being friends,” Rhodes said. “It restores your faith.”

The trouble began Sunday evening, when the double-decker Coast Starlight train struck a tree that had fallen onto the tracks, Amtrak said.

READ MORE: WestJet apologizes after passengers stranded in Cancun for 33 hours

Rhodes said the train stopped suddenly but not violently. She was told the engine hit several snow-laden trees and that one snapped back, damaging a hose assembly providing air pressure for the brakes. The train was repaired enough to move forward a short distance to Oakridge, Oregon, a town 1,200 feet high in the Cascade Range that was dealing with its own problems — a blackout and snow and debris-covered roads.

Railroad officials decided to keep the passengers on board instead of letting them into the town of 3,200 people. The hours ticked by. Some passengers grew impatient.

“This is hell and it’s getting worse,” Rebekah Dodson posted on Facebook after 30 hours, along with photos of herself and other passengers smiling into the camera.

The train with 183 passengers still had electricity, heat and food. Some people took the long unscheduled stop with a sense of humour.

“The food hoarding has begun. I’m considering saving half my dinner steak and making jerky on the room heater,” Rhodes tweeted. She and her brother had sleeping berths.

“We were fed very well. Steak at night, hot breakfast in the morning,” she said. Coach passengers were given beef stew with mashed potatoes, she noted.

Amtrak executive vice-president and chief operating officer Scot Naparstek said the railroad regretted the extended delay.

“With more than a foot of heavy snow and numerous trees blocking the track, we made every decision in the best interest of the safety of our customers,” Naparstek said, adding customers would get refunds and other compensation.

The crew of 13 dealt with the situation as best they could. With diapers running short, a worker in the cafe improvised with napkins and safety pins, Rhodes said.

Andrew Selsky, The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Ferry riders say lower fares are what’s most needed to improve service

Provincial government announces findings of public engagement process

COVID-19 isn’t cancelling this year’s Tour de Rock

Alumni riders will cycle relay sections in their own communities

POLL: Can B.C. hold a provincial election safely during a pandemic?

Can B.C. hold a provincial election safely during a pandemic?… Continue reading

Trail proposed to connect Cedar and Yellow Point

Regional director says project fits with active transportation goals

Woodgrove Centre posts plans to make masks and temperature checks mandatory

Mall advises in letter to customers that rules will come into effect Monday, Sept. 21

Protesters march in Nanaimo, calling for greater protection of forests and watersheds

March for the Forests happened downtown on Friday afternoon

Nanaimo residents ticketed for putting out garbage bins the night before pickup

Conservation officers say they issued seven tickets this week, as warnings weren’t having an impact

Accused in Makayla Chang’s murder sees next court date in October

Steven Michael Bacon faces first-degree murder charge in killing of Nanaimo teen

Regional District of Nanaimo looks to create its own flag

Staff created makeshift flag earlier this year for a conference that ended up getting cancelled

Nanaimo senior defrauded out of $14,000 in ‘grandson scam’

80-year-old victim was told her grandson was out-of-province and in legal trouble

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Conservation officers free fawn stuck in fence in Nanaimo

Fawn was uninjured after getting caught in fence in Hammond Bay area Wednesday

Beefs & Bouquets, Sept. 16

To submit a beef or a bouquet to the Nanaimo News Bulletin, e-mail bulletinboard@nanaimobulletin.com

One person dead in two-vehicle accident in North Island

Highway 19A was closed for several hours north of Courtenay following the crash

Most Read