MENDON, Mo. — As is often the case, the first look at a tragic scene comes via social media from those involved.
One man’s pictures were some of the first we saw from the train wreckage Monday near Mendon, Missouri, as he emerged from his Amtrak car.
“Hang in there, hun.” Those comforting words can be heard in Robert Nightingale’s video.
He’s a passenger that recorded the moments right after the Amtrak train derailed and eight cars tipped over.
The train sat on its side and passengers were forced to use the wall and glass windows as the floor.
“I was afraid that the glass was going to break, and all the debris would fly into my room,” Nightingale said.
Before the train started rolling, Nightingale said it started rocking. The lights flickered and he knew the train went off the tracks.
“There was like a big jolt. just a big, tremendous jolt,” Nightingale said.
From there, he said it was slow motion.
“I was worried about fire, but there was a sense of calm,” Nightingale said. “Then, I heard little girls crying next door and that’s when I decided to open my door and climb into the hallway.”
He followed the family out of the train’s side window, which was now the top.
Several passengers sat there until help arrived.
“I was, I didn’t know what to do,” Nightingale said. “I was in a state of shock.”
Nightingale said two Boy Scout troops were on the train. They pulled a lot of passengers to safety and administered first aid.
“They did a great job in helping, assisting people,” Nightingale said.
On one of the worst days of his life, Nightingale is grateful they landed in a cornfield in this small town.
“The locals came out and they brought pizza, chicken, water, and sodas,” Nightingale said.” “They were just, all over the place, can we help you are you okay, are you okay.”
Nightingale made it to Chicago Tuesday morning. Happy to be alive, he plans to take the train to see family in Michigan in a few days.