In April, Allen Gallaway’s home in Andover, Kansas, was one block away from getting ripped up by a tornado roaring like a freight train. Then, on Monday, he was in an actual train wreck, causing him to fly through the air in a moment he called “surreal.”
“It’s not been a good year for that kind of stuff. It’s like three strikes and you’re out. I don’t want that,” he said, with some levity.
He was one of more than 200 passengers on an Amtrak train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago when several cars derailed Monday afternoon after it struck a dump truck at a crossing in northern Missouri.
He was headed to Chicago for a National Education Association conference, the first one since COVID. He boarded the train at 6 a.m., four hours later than was scheduled because of delays.
The train was supposed to arrive in Chicago at 3 p.m., but was obviously going to be late. Gallaway said he was talking with a friend, they had just finished eating. His drink suddenly flew forward.
“We thought the train had stopped abruptly. Then I saw the car in front of us tilting, and we were tilting over. It was surreal. It was like slow motion. “When I saw what was happening, I just yelled out, ‘No, no no!’ Then it was over.”
People fell on top of him. He was mostly unhurt with a few bumps and bruises. His most present thought, however, is about the people on the train.
“The kindness of people of trying to help each other get out of the train,” he said, “and getting us off the top of the train, and on to the ground.”
He was transported by school bus with scores of other to Northwestern High School, gathering at the gym in town, where they received food and aid.
Many waited for friends or relatives to pick them up, continue their trips. Gallaway is not among them. He called his fiancée. He is headed back home.
“I’ve had enough,” he said.