Appleton Boy Scouts played major rescue role after Amtrak train derailed

Reactions from moms and scout leaders on news of Appleton teens breaking windows and rendering first aid after being in a train crash
Published: Jun. 27, 2022 at 4:59 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 28, 2022 at 11:26 AM CDT
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MENDON, Mo. (WBAY) - Action 2 News has confirmed two Boy Scout troops from Appleton were on an Amtrak train that derailed in Missouri while traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago after hitting a dump truck at an uncontrolled crossing.

We’re also learning the Boy Scouts played a major role in the rescue -- breaking windows, helping people off the train, and attempting to save the life of the dump truck driver who died.

“It was a phone call that no parent should ever have to receive. It was probably way up there on the scariest moments of my life,” Nicole Tierney, whose son, Owen, was on the train, said.

“Until I heard from my son an hour later, that he was okay, I couldn’t stop shaking or crying,” said Sarah Berken, whose son, Isaac, was also onboard.

Scott Armstrong, director of national media relations with the Boy Scouts of America, said there were 16 youth, who are 13 to 17 years old, and 8 adults. They were members of troops 73 and 12, which are chartered with First English Lutheran Church in Appleton, according to a Boy Scouts source. They were returning home from a week-long backpacking trip at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico.

Two of the adults were transported to hospitals. We’re told that one suffered a cracked vertebrae, and the other had seven broken ribs and a bruised lung.

Armstrong said everyone else was put on a school bus and taken to a hospital to be checked out as a precaution. They all had cuts and bruises but nothing serious, Armstrong said. Parents said one scout could be kept in the hospital overnight, but his injuries aren’t life-threatening.

Two mothers we spoke with were relieved Monday night, telling us the scouts are shaken but proud of being able to help after the devastating crash.

Boy Scouts from Appleton were returning home from Philmont Scout Ranch when their Amtrak train...
Boy Scouts from Appleton were returning home from Philmont Scout Ranch when their Amtrak train hit a truck and derailed(Photos provided)

Scout leaders said the scouts who weren’t injured were among the first people on the train to help render aid. Armstrong told us the scouts on the train assisted people and provided aid to people who needed it. One scout from Appleton provided comfort to the driver of the dump truck, who was ejected in the crash, until the driver passed away.

“I’m proud of them. One scout wrapped his hand, 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,” Dan Skrypczak, scout master of Troop 73, said.

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

The response of the scouts has now put the troop in the national spotlight, especially with the organization.

“These scouts are highly trained. They would have received advanced first aid training prior to going, including their adult leaders would have had people with wilderness first aid certification, which is a pretty advanced course,” Armstrong said. “Luckily they had that training because I’m sure they put it to use today.”

Tierney said she is “very proud. Very proud of how some of our boys helped with some of the injured passengers and how they were willing to put themselves aside. That’s just what Boy Scouts do.”

“We just can’t wait to get them home,” she added.

We don’t know when the Boy Scouts will be back home. We’re told they were being put up in different hotels Monday night.

Philmont Scout Ranch says it requires two members of each crew to be certified in Wilderness First Aid and CPR. The teams had been on a 7-day trek, hiking more than 30 miles across the backcountry.

“It’s impressive to see that our Scouts utilize the skills that prepare them for a Philmont Wilderness First Aid situation in an emergency crisis and response event,” said Roger Hoyt, General Manager of Philmont Scout Ranch. “No one wants to use these skills, but I’m sure glad the Scouts and leaders were there and prepared to act.”

“My thoughts and prayers go out to the passengers on the Amtrak. 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,” said State Rep. Lee Snodgrass, who serves Appleton, Menasha and Fox Crossing areas.

The National Transportation Safety Board has arrived in Mendon and is expected to hold a news conference Tuesday. Details are pending.

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