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Amtrak Hero No Longer Dazzled by Limelight

October 11, 1993

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) _ A man who helped save 30 lives when an Amtrak train plunged into a bayou last month has received movie and job offers, but he also has flashbacks to the crash scene and still hasn’t gotten his luggage back.

Michael Dopheide, 26, is haunted by vivid memories of the crash that killed 47 people.

″I thought I was over it, but when I got home it hit me a little differently,″ he said. ″I’ve had some flashbacks about what happened.″

And the glare of the limelight is beginning to wear on his nerves.

″It was nice at first to be noticed, but I really don’t want to be in it anymore,″ he said. ″My life has changed a little bit, but now it’s getting old. It makes you miss the peaceful life again.″

Dopheide, an unemployed law school graduate from Omaha, Neb., was on his way to Germany for a month-long vacation when the Sunset Limited crashed into the murky waters of Bayou Canot on Sept. 22.

Dopheide kicked out a window in a partially submerged passenger car, jumped into the water and helped 30 others to safety.

He recently was given the key to the city of Omaha and will soon travel to Washington, D.C., to be recognized by Transportation Secretary Federico Pena.

Dopheide has been bombarded with requests for interviews to tell his story.

″CBS’ ’48 Hours’ is here right now,″ he told the Mobile Register in a telephone interview from his home last week.

Dopheide signed a deal with a production company giving them the rights to his life story for a TV movie. He isn’t sure when filming might begin - or who would play his part.

Dopheide is still trying to get his luggage returned and also attempted to get a refund from Amtrak, but was turned down since the railroad paid for his flight back to Omaha.

His first priority is finding a job, which shouldn’t be difficult.

″I’ve got several job offers and now I have to decide which one is best for me,″ he said.

His newfound celebrity also has landed Dopheide several offers for dates.

″They’ll call and say, ’I saw you TV and I just want to go out with you,‴ he said. ″I turned down the requests.″

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