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

WATCH: Yale firefighters fight late night cabin fire in Spuzzum

Neighbours started fighting fire until crews arrived an hour later

Chilliwack youth planning solidarity march against racism

Organizer hoping to ‘create a type of a energy in the city that we will not be silent about racism’

Fraser River freshet peak is coming soon

Predictions for 2020 by River Forecast Centre has the freshet peak at the Mission gauge for June 4-5

Virtual public hearing set for developer with plans to subdivide Willow Street lot

People can submit comments in advance, or call to be added to a speakers list, ahead of June 3rd hearing

Cyclist in his 50s victim of fatal crash near Hope Thursday

Police have ruled out speed, impairment as factors after a tractor-trailer struck a man in his 50s

B.C. records four new COVID-19 cases, Abbotsford hospital outbreak cleared

Four senior home outbreaks also declared over, eight still active

RCMP, coroner investigate murder-suicide on Salt Spring Island

Two dead, police say there is no risk to the public

About 30% of B.C. students return to schools as in-class teaching restarts amid pandemic

Education minister noted that in-class instruction remains optional

Trudeau avoids questions about anti-racism protesters dispersed for Trump photo-op

Prime minister says racism is an issue Canadians must tackle at home, too

B.C.’s Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics goes virtual

The annual event partnering RCMP with Special Olympians is dramatically altered by COVID-19

Bateman program encourages people to sketch outside, connect with nature

#MyNatureSketch initiative encourages Canadians to become ‘bright-eyed three year olds’

Be cautious expanding COVID-19 bubble, Dr. Bonnie Henry tells B.C.

Senior homes stay off-limits as schools, businesses reopen

VIDEO: Yarrow’s Corwin Drew in final four of Vancouver Whitecaps Academy skills competition

The soccer star is looking for community support to get him through the next round of online voting

Most Read