Yamhill woman survives Amtrak derailment in Montana but faces difficult recovery

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Hope Gilmore had just visited her youngest daughter in Wisconsin and was returning to Portland on an Amtrak train on Saturday afternoon when her world turned upside down.

70-year-old Yamhill was on the Empire Builder train traveling from Chicago to Seattle and Portland when it derailed 3 miles west of Joplin, MT, just before 4 p.m. The car Gilmore was in was one of eight off the track. , killing three people and injuring several passengers and crew, Amtrak said in a statement.

Gilmore has been in a Montana hospital since the crash and is recovering from a broken vertebrae and brain hemorrhage, her husband, Alan Gilmore, said in a telephone interview on Wednesday. She had surgery on Tuesday to repair her vertebrae and will need to stay in Montana to rehabilitate and learn to walk again, Alan said.

“According to the doctor, she was in the worst condition, but she is still alive,” he said. “She is only one of four people still in the hospital and the only one still in intensive care.”

There were 146 passengers and 16 crew on board the train when it derailed along a BNSF-operated railroad track, Amtrak said in the statement.

Officials from the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Railroad Administration are investigating the cause, Amtrak said.

Alan said he and dozens of others affected by the incident had a conference call with NTSB and Amtrak officials, who said it would take some time before investigators could determine the outcome. cause.

The road to recovery will be long for Hope, who celebrated her 70th birthday in intensive care on Sunday, her husband said.

Alan was awaiting Hope’s return when his eldest daughter told him that a train had crashed in Montana. They determined that the train was the one Hope had traveled on, but waited hours to find out if she was injured.

Alan said one of his daughters called Hope’s phone and an ambulance driver was the first to answer. The driver said they thought Hope would be fine, but were taking her to hospital two hours from the crash site for assessment.

Alan jumped into the car with one of his daughters, expecting to bring Hope home from the hospital the same day. Halfway through, they got a call from the hospital. Hope’s injuries were worse than expected.

Hope had fallen on her head when the train derailed, and then a table fell on her. It was about three hours before she thought rescuers were able to break into her cabin and extricate her, Alan said.

The recovery so far has been emotionally and physically taxing for Hope, who has had cognitive issues from the brain hemorrhage and her pain relievers, Alan said. The broken vertebrae left the right side of her body numb and weak, and the bruises look like “someone beat her with a baseball bat,” he said.

“She will need to retrain to walk, and the swollen injury to her spine will need to subside and heal,” Alan said. “It’s going to be a long road, but we hope it will come through. “

– Catalina Gaitán; find them on Twitter @catalinagaitan_


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