Interestingly enough, this past Sunday there was a train derailment between Poughkeepsie and Grand Central Station in New York. According to published reports, at least 4 people died and dozens more were injured. Normally, I wouldn’t even write about a train derailment, because most people have “never” experienced on… Well, “I have…” Years ago I was riding on the Amtrak “Silver Star” train headed towards South Carolina. The main reason why I chose to take the train down was because a week prior I was on a plane that actually “tried” to land in Houston, Texas “during a really bad electrical storm.” To make a long story short, the rain was coming down “heavy” and the pilot of the plane realized at the last second that the landing was not going to go as planned, so he immediately “turned” the nose of the plane back up towards the sky and just about “everyone’s” eyes opened up to the size of “baseballs.” The botched landing scared a lot of people (including me) and that was the reason why I decided to take the train this time down to South Carolina. Well, as luck would have it, on “this” particular day it was “also” raining profusely. We were riding through the night and for some reason the train seemed to be going exceptionally fast. Since I was not used to riding trains, I decided to ignore the speed factor and just try to enjoy the ride. Well, somewhere between Raleigh and Vance, North Carolina, the lights “went out” in the cabin. Then all of a sudden the ride became “very” rough and the train compartment seemed to alternate leaning “side to side” (kind of like in those old Star Trek television series). The seats we were sitting in became unattached to the floor, and the luggage on the higher racks started to fall out. Old folks looked like they were break dancing as they fell out of their chairs. I was sitting in the very front seat of the train car, so I was right next to the doorway. Well, the lady who was sitting behind me was jolted to the point where she was flying towards the doorway, so I took my hands and used them to pin her down to the floor. As I did so, my seat had also uprooted and then pinned my left leg to the wall. When the commotion finally ended we were all leaning heavily to the right. Small emergency lights did come on, and I could hear someone on the intercom system say, “Is everyone alright?” At this point, the other passengers on the train were getting “extremely” hyped and they expressed their “strong” desire to exit the train immediately. I told them to look out the windows and tell me what they see. They looked and then said that they couldn’t see “anything.” It was nighttime and it was “pitch black” out there. I then responded by saying “Right! You can’t see what’s outside, but you do know what’s in here. Now do you think you STILL want to venture outside?” Silence came after that, but “no one” tried to leave. A rescue squad arrived “minutes” afterwards and they escorted us all off the train where they took us to a nearby armory to get ourselves together. Back then there were no cell phones, and there was only one pay phone in the place (Everyone was in line for it to call families and friends). When I finally got my turn to make a call, my home line was busy, because my mother was “already” calling all the hospitals in North Carolina trying to find me. It appeared that my family had heard about the incident on the news before I could even get the chance to contact them. While we were in the armory, news cameras came up to me and the lady I saved and interviewed us for television. It was quite a night, and finally they took us all to hotels so we could stay for the other half of the night. By the way, I contacted Amtrak after that asking them for a refund of the money I paid for the ticket, and they “refused” to pay it, saying that even though I reached my destination a whole day late, they still got us there. This is my story for today, and I hope you don’t mind me sharing it. We hear about things like this on the news periodically, but hardly anyone knows what it is “really” like to be in one. I hope you don’t mind me sharing my story with you today. Thank you and please have an awesome day.
Robin Roberts and Brett Jolly