Boy Scouts played major rescue role after Amtrak train derailed

Published: Jun. 28, 2022 at 12:55 AM CDT
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MENDON, Mo. (WBAY/Gray News) - Two Boy Scout troops from Wisconsin played a major role in the rescue when an Amtrak train derailed in Missouri after hitting a dump truck at an uncontrolled crossing.

The Boy Scouts from Appleton were on the train, which was traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago, when it derailed. They jumped into action, breaking windows, helping people off the train and attempting to save the life of the dump truck driver, who died.

Two mothers with whom WBAY spoke Monday night say the Scouts are shaken but proud of being able to help after the devastating crash.

“It was a phone call that no parent should ever have to receive. It was probably way up there on the scariest moments of my life,” said Nicole Tierney, whose son, Owen, was on the train.

“Until I heard from my son an hour later, that he was OK, I couldn’t stop shaking or crying,” said Sarah Berken, whose son, Isaac, was also onboard.

Scott Armstrong, director of national media relations with the Boy Scouts of America, said there were 16 youth, who are 13 to 17 years old, and eight adults on the train. They were members of troops 73 and 12, which are chartered with First English Lutheran Church in Appleton, according to a Boy Scouts source.

They were returning home from a weeklong backpacking trip at a High Adventure wilderness camp in New Mexico.

Two of the adults were taken to hospitals. WBAY reports that one suffered a cracked vertebrae, and the other had seven broken ribs and a bruised lung.

Armstrong said everyone else was put on a school bus and taken to a hospital to be checked out as a precaution. They all had cuts and bruises but nothing serious, he said. Parents said one scout could be kept in the hospital overnight, but his injuries aren’t life-threatening.

Scout leaders said the Scouts who weren’t injured were among the first people on the train to help render aid.

Armstrong said the Scouts on the train provided aid to people who needed it. One Scout from Appleton provided comfort to the driver of the dump truck, who was ejected in the crash, until the driver passed away.

“I’m proud of them. One Scout wrapped his hand, took his shirt off, wrapped his hand to break some windows to get people out. Another Scout went and comforted the driver of the truck that was hit and tried to stabilize him,” said Dan Skrypczak, scout master of Troop 73. “They were tandem working on that gentleman when he expired, so that Scout is pretty shook up.”

The response of the Scouts has now put the troop in the national spotlight, especially with the organization.

“These Scouts are highly trained. They would have received advanced first-aid training prior to going, including their adult leaders, would have had people with wilderness first-aid certification, which is a pretty advanced course,” Armstrong said. “Luckily they had that training because I’m sure they put it to use today.”

Tierney said she is “very proud. 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. We just can’t wait to get them home.”

It’s unclear when the Scouts will be able to return home. WBAY reports they were being put up in different hotels Monday night.

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