UTICA, N.Y. – A Utica man who loves trains was taking an Amtrak trip to the Pacific Northwest when his train derailed in a remote part of Montana Saturday.
Three people died in the incident, but Wayne Freed says he’s alive because of a trip to the lounge car, where he went to charge his phone so he could take photos.
"I mean what saved me was I think, I had a table bolted to the floor right next to me, a little coffee table kind of thing and I just bearhugged that because now my legs were just dangling in the air and down below me are what should be this huge side windows but now they’re on the bottom of the car scraping through the stone and they’re all being broken out,” he said. “So now we had this gaping hole directly underneath me.”
About a minute after he got to the lounge car, Freed says he knew something was amiss.
"I heard this loud metallic ‘boom’ which was followed immediately by the sound of ballast, that’s the stone under the ties, scraping on the car so I knew we were off the rails,” he said. "The tilt was slow, the train was still going fast and it just kept going over more and more and more, and I just kept thinking surely it’s going to stop soon and it got to 45 degrees and at that point, I thought, if it doesn’t stop now it’s going to go all the way and it just continued and then it just rolled over on its side.”
Freed collects train memorabilia and displays it in his South Utica home.
He says this incident won’t deter him from continuing to travel by train.
"I guess you just have to have some trust I mean proportionally or statistically it’s safer than driving,” he said.
Freed even has another train trip to Chicago booked for October.