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

COVID-19: Northern Health assuring public it has declared no public exposure events or outbreaks

As of Sept. 17, there are 241 cases in the Northern Health Authority region

Single-engine aircraft crashes near Telkwa

Two occupants of the plane sustained minor injuries and were transported to hospital

Cullen announces bid for provincial NDP nomination for Stikine riding

Current MLA Donaldson not seeking re-election

Anne Marie Sam seeks NDP nomination for Nechako Lakes riding

She also ran in 2017 but was defeated by BC Liberal John Rustad

Northern Health records 1st fatality due to COVID-19

Six people died from the novel coronavirus on the weekend, health officials confirm

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

70-year-old punched in the head in dispute over disability parking space in Nanaimo

Senior’s turban knocked off in incident at mall parking lot

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Record-breaking 165 new COVID-19 cases diagnosed in B.C. in 24-hour period

Fifty-seven people are in hospital battling the novel coronavirus

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C.’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan: Top 5 things you need to know

Jobs training, tax incentives for employers to hire staff and more

March to protect old growth, stop industrial logging coming to B.C. Legislature

Organizers say they want to give frontline communities a bigger say in nearby logging

B.C. releases details of $1.5B economic recovery plan, $660M in business tax incentives

Economic plan includes support for employers, as well as training for workers

Most Read