An Army soldier who witnessed the Amtrak train derailing and plummeting from the overpass risked his own life to provide aid to injured passengers, saving a grandmother who was dangling precariously from outside of one of the train cars. He was driving down the interstate when the incident occurred, quickly grabbing his medical kit and rendering aid.
2nd Lt. Robert McCoy, a soldier assigned to nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord, was driving his truck on I-5 when he heard a loud bang and saw the train cars starting to fall from the overpass.
As reported by the Daily Mail, McCoy said during an interview, “[The train cars] hit three vehicles that were in front of me.” He added that he quickly slammed on his brakes as the scene unfolded before him.
McCoy quickly jumped out of his truck, carrying a tourniquet and CPR mask he had with him, and headed straight into the chaotic scene.
“There were people yelling,” said McCoy. “There were people looking for each other, loved ones.”
“I saw many people that were just paralyzed with fear, and I don’t blame them at all,” McCoy added. “I mean, it was kind of a hard situation to watch unfold.”
McCoy, who serves in a medical position, stated he saw passengers who had been thrown from the train during the accident. They were lying on the road injured as the train cars dangled above them.
Fearing that they could be crushed should the passenger car fall, McCoy carried many of them to safety. He then turned his attention to the passengers who were still on the train.
As he surveyed the Amtrak train, he saw a grandmother who was hanging from one of the cars as her family desperately tried to pull her back inside.
“She was kind of at the end here, dangling out, but another downed rail car was right here,” said McCoy. “Her daughter kind of pulled her out backwards and I just reached under her and picked her up and put her down on some form of safe structure.”
McCoy then made his way into the damaged train car, assisting dozens of trapped passengers.
“I couldn’t afford to be scared; I couldn’t afford to be shocked,” McCoy asserted. “I had to do what I am called to do and focus and channel that and help these people around me get to safety as best as possible.”
McCoy was joined by other soldiers in his efforts, including Lt. Col. Christopher Sloan, the deputy commander of the Madigan Army Medical Center, and Maj. Michael Livingston, a Madigan CRNA.
“There was compassion, there was a clear understanding that people were in need of help,” said Sloan during a press conference. “I said to myself immediately; this is a mass casualty scenario.”
“I just knew people needed help,” Livingston added. “I had no idea it was an inaugural run of the train or anything. It was, what can I do to help as fast as possible and keep these people safe.”