Boy Scout troops help pull passengers from wreckage, administer first aid after fatal derailment of Amtrak train

MENDON, Mo. – There have to be merit badges in this for some heroic young men.

After an Amtrak train crashed into a dump truck and derailed near Mendon, Missouri on Monday, two Boy Scout troops that were on the train selflessly jumped into action to help other passengers reach safety.

The Chicago-bound Amtrak train collided with a dump truck that was on the tracks at around 12:40 p.m., causing seven of the eight cars on the train to derail and fall over. Among the 243 passengers were two Boy Scout groups returning home to Appleton, Wisconsin from a week-long backpacking trip in New Mexico, Amtrak officials said.

After the crash, the Boy Scouts began breaking windows and helping pull people out of the train cars to safety. Not only did the scouts pull people from the wreckage, but they also administered first-aid to injured passengers before first responders arrived at the crash site.

The driver of the dump truck had been ejected from his vehicle and landed in a nearby ditch. One 15-year-old scout located the driver after the crash and attempted to stabilize him, but the driver later succumbed to his injuries. The scout comforted the driver until he passed, a scout leader said.

“I’m proud of them,” Dan Skrypczak, scoutmaster of Troop 73 told WBAY News. “One scout … 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.”

“They were tandem working on that gentleman when he expired, so that scout is pretty shook up,” he added.

The two troops, Troop 73 and Troop 12, consisted of 16 boys ages 13 to 17, and eight group leaders. Two of the leaders reportedly suffered severe injuries, including seven broken ribs, a cracked vertebrae and a bruised lung, and had to be transported to a nearby hospital. 

Scott Armstrong, director of national media relations with the Boy Scouts of America, told WBAY News that the scouts and other scout leaders were taken to a hospital to evaluate any other injuries. Armstrong said everyone had cuts and bruises, but nothing serious. 

“These scouts are highly trained. They [had] received advanced first aid training prior to going,” Armstrong told WBAY. 

Scout leaders had also completed a wilderness first aid certification prior to the wreck, “which is a pretty advanced course,” Armstrong said. “Luckily they had that training, because I’m sure they put it to use today.”

Two passengers on the train were pronounced dead at the scene and a third passenger died later at a hospital, bringing the death count of the tragedy to four. Roughly 150 people also were injured during the crash, with victims taken to nearby hospitals via helicopter and ambulance, according to the highway patrol. 

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the passengers on the Amtrak,” said Wisconsin state Rep. Lee Snodgrass, who serves the area the troops are from. “What a demonstration of heroism and bravery these Appleton Boy Scouts embodied as they stepped up to help others in what was surely a terrifying and traumatic experience. Truly living the Boy Scout Oath and Law.”

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