Crew Members Arrive In New Orleans With AM-Amtrak Wreck, Bjt
NEW ORLEANS (AP) _ Surviving crew members of the wrecked Amtrak train returned to New Orleans, where a sign reads: ″Welcome to New Orleans: The Heart of Amtrak’s First Continental Route - The Sunset Limited.″
″It was like a nightmare, something you’d see on TV,″ said chef Jerome White said.
Forty hours earlier, White and 16 other New Orleans-based crew members left Union Passenger Terminal to complete the eastward leg of the Sunset Limited, en route from Los Angeles to Miami. It plunged into a muddy bayou north of Mobile, Ala., early Wednesday morning, killing nearly four dozen people.
″The impact threw me out of the room on to the floor,″ said Jackie Moorehead, an 18-year veteran with Amtrak in charge of the train’s diner.
Moorehead was among the vanload of crew members who returned to New Orleans Thursday afternoon. Amtrak officials met them and ushered them into a conference room for a briefing.
Authorities would not say how many crew members returned, but witnesses counted as many as 12. Two crew members were reported killed in the derailment. Three were still missing.
″Nobody panicked. Everybody was trying to help everybody get off the train,″ said White, who awoke from the fierce jolt of the derailment. ″The car was on fire and I new we just had to get out.″
White, a Cleveland native, and other crew members escaped through a window and swam to a nearby barge where they began throwing life jackets to people still in the water.
″They say we are heroes, but we just worked on instincts. I think everybody was a hero,″ he said.