There were approximately 275 passengers and 12 crew members on board an Amtrak train when it derailed in Missouri on Monday. Among the travelers on the ill-fated train were two Boy Scout troops heading home to Wisconsin from a 10-day backpacking trip in New Mexico. After the train derailed, the Boy Scout members displayed acts of courage and heroism.
An Amtrak train ran off the tracks after colliding with a dump truck in Mendon, Missouri. Four people died in the train wreck, and at least 150 were injured.
There were brave actions taken by members of Troops 12 and 73 of Boy Scouts of America Bay-Lakes Council in Appleton, Wisconsin. The Boy Scout members were all between the ages of 14 and 17, plus eight adult troop leaders.
"It was a lot of chaos when it first fell over. There was crying, screaming, a lot of confusion," 16-year-old Elijah Awe told WISN-TV.
Awe tended to his father – who suffered cracked vertebrae and bruised ribs.
"My dad, he was having trouble breathing and his ribs were hurting, and right away he knew that he broke something," Awe said.
One Boy Scout was trapped in a train bathroom for 35 minutes because the weight of one of the passengers who died prevented him from opening the door.
"Pipes were going loose. Screws were everywhere, water dropping. Everything was completely upside down," Dean Seaborn, 14, told WISN-TV. " I was freaking out."
Boy Scouts Help Passengers From Deadly Amtrak Derailment www.youtube.com
Eli Skrypczak, a 15-year-old scout, scampered to a nearby ditch where the dump truck driver had been ejected. Skrypczak tried to administer first aid and stop the bleeding, but it was too late. The scout comforted the driver as he died.
"One of our scouts, a 15-year-old, he's actually the senior patrol leader, which is the lead youth of a scout troop, went forward to the point of impact of the crash and actually discovered the driver of the dump truck that was hit, who had been ejected and landed in the field adjacent to the train so our scout located the driver, attempted first aid, summoned state police and emergency responders,” Scott Armstrong – the director of national media relations for the Boy Scouts of America – told Good Morning America. "They continued to give aid and then wound up just giving comfort frankly as he passed away on the scene, unfortunately."
The boy's father, Dan Skrypczak, told the New York Post, "He’s OK. He’s shook now that the adrenaline has worn off. When we finally did talk to him, he was pretty upset, he wishes he could have done more."
"Just trying to explain to him, you get hit by a high-speed train, nobody could’ve done much for the truck driver," said Skrypczak – who is the Appleton Troop 73 Scout Master. "He did everything he could, he did the right thing, he provided comfort and aid."
Boy Scout comforts dying driver after train derailment | Morning in America www.youtube.com
At least one Boy Scout broke windows on the train to help people escape, according to WBAY-TV.
Harrison Boardman, 17, opened up as many windows as possible so passengers in the overturned train cars could escape.
"I was trying to make sure I was the last scout off the train, so we had everybody," Boardman told Fox News.
Boardman stated, "I just thought it was really awesome how fast we were able to help other people."
Henry Gadzik explained, "I’m wearing this uniform. People expect me to know what to do and to help others and [I knew] that’s the role I have to play right now. I have the power to help people and I need to do it."
Armstrong said all of the scouts were in "relatively decent shape," but some of the adults "are pretty banged up, but nothing life-threatening but every one of them put their skills and kind of presence of mind to good use yesterday, helping others."
Armstrong added, "It's stressful enough taking kids that aren't yours out on a high adventure like this, but when you have a catastrophic incident on top of it, we're really proud not only just the scouts but also the volunteer adult leaders that are with them."
Scout Elijah Schultz told KSN-TV, "It really can happen at any time, these emergencies, these incidents. No one is really ever truly safe. There’s kind of the feeling that there wasn’t anything we could have done to stop it. All that matters is that you had to be prepared for it."
Matt Schultz – one of the boy scout leaders – told WFRV-TV, "It certainly makes you proud as a parent to know that they didn’t have to have their hand held throughout the whole thing. None of these boys did. Even the boys who had their fathers that were severely hurt, none of them lost their cool. They all kept composure."
Nicole Tierney – a mother of one of the scouts on the derailed train – told WBAY-TV, "[I'm] very proud of how some of our boys helped with some of the injured passengers and how they were willing to put themselves aside. That's just what Boy Scouts do."
Wisconsin Boy Scouts leader recounts surviving Amtrak train crash, helping others amid wreckage www.youtube.com