A Wisconsin teen traveling with his boy scout troop when an Amtrak train derailed in Missouri did not panic or hesitate amid the chaos, but instead attempted to save and comfort the driver of the truck that collided with them.
Boy Scout Troops 73 and 12 were training home to Appleton aboard Amtrak’s Southwest Chief when it slammed into another vehicle at an intersection near Mendon. They’d just finished a 10-day backpacking trip in New Mexico, according to Scott Armstrong, director of national media relations with the Boy Scouts of America,
Eli Skrypczak was one of the first people to escape the wreckage, according to his father and boy scout troop leader, Dan Skrypczak. The 15-year-old almost immediately spotted the truck driver lying in a ditch nearby and struggling to breathe.
“Eli held his hand and tried to stop some of the major bleeding,” his father told TODAY Parents.
The truck driver, who has not been identified, ultimately succumbed to his injuries. Police said another three people were killed when the train derailed. They have not yet been named either.
“Eli is upset he couldn’t do more. I keep reiterating to him that he did everything he could,” Dan Skypczak said. “The State Highway patrol told him the same thing. There was nothing he could’ve done to save him.”
Dan added that he is “extremely proud of” his son, who returned to the wreckage to help his fellow scouts provide aid to others on the train.
“These kids performed first aid and broke open windows so that people could get out,” the scout leader told Today. “They comforted crying children.”
Dan said the teens, ranging in age from 13 to 17, also helped clear a path to give paramedics better access to those who may be hurt or trapped.
An estimated 150 people were transported from the scene to 10 different area hospitals with injuries ranging “from minor to serious in nature,” according to a statement from the National Transportation Safety Board. The agency is currently investigating the incident.