Chicago native recounts moments Amtrak train derailed in Missouri


MENDON, Mo. —  Several Amtrak train cars derailed in Missouri on a trip Monday from Los Angeles to Chicago, causing several injuries and three deaths.

Chicago native Rob Nightingale was in a sleeper car on the Southwest Chief Amtrak train in rural Missouri when a strange movement caught his attention. 

“Then I knew something happened because all of a sudden it felt like the train was riding on gravel,” he said.

Seconds later, Nightingale said the train he’d been riding since New Mexico started to tip over.

“I heard a little girl crying from the next sleeper over,” Nightingale told WGN News via a phone interview.

Nightingale captured video as he and other passengers emerged from the car, climbing out of a window and on top of what was the side of the train.

“Just saw some people with cuts and blood on their face,” Nightingale said. “The dining car server, she was all bloody, I think from her helping people in the dining car.”

Missouri State Highway Patrol says the train hit a dump truck in Mendon, Missouri – about 100 miles northeast of Kansas City. The collision happened at what’s called an uncontrolled intersection. 

“So no lights, no electronic control devices, things such as that,” authorities explained during a press conference Monday evening. “A lot of your rural intersections are that way.”

The cash and derailment killed three people — two people died on the train and one in the dump truck — and injured more than 50 others, prompting the assistance of first responders from nearly two dozen agencies.

SEE ALSO: 3 boys killed in West Humboldt Park fire

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the people on that train, the family, the rescue people,” Missouri Governor Mike Parson said.

Amid the disaster, there were stories of selflessness.

Two Boy Scout troops heading home to Appleton, Wisconsin, were on board and administered first aid to several passengers and the dump truck driver.

The people of Mendon, a town of 160, showed up in a big way, sending school buses to pick up the stranded passengers.

Nightingale spoke with WGN News from an area high school gymnasium, waiting for travel arrangements to Chicago. He said the kindness moved him.

“The community has given so much food, so much food, and volunteers galore,” he said. “Just really nice people.”

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