MOBILE, Alabama (WALA) - THE DEADLIEST WRECK
Seventeen years ago, the Sunset Limited train derailed in a bayou north of Mobile. It was the deadliest train wreck in Amtrak history, taking the lives of 47 people. It was also a life-altering event for those that survived. One of those survivors returned for the first time Wednesday afternoon.
A RETURN TO A TRAGEDY
Siobhan O'Reilly took a trip back to the worst moments of her life. O'Reilly journeyed from her home in England to face the past and the tragedy she can never forget.
"The screaming, being terrified, not knowing what's going to happen to us," O'Reilly described.
O'Reilly was on Amtrak's Sunset Limited as it plunged into Bayou Canot, north of Mobile, in the middle of the night. The wreck took the lives of 47 people and injured more than 100 others. This is the first time she's returned.
"It's quite incredible to be here really. It's very, very sad," O'Reilly said.
O'Reilly left flowers in the memory of those that died that night, and almost on cue, a train roared by.
"I'm very lucky I survived and I'm sad for those that didn't," she said. "It must have been a horrendous way to end your life."
HOW IT HAPPENED
The derailment was caused by damage to a bridge. It had been struck by a barge after an inexperienced tugboat pilot became disoriented in heavy fog. On that morning, the train was going more than 70 miles per hour when it derailed, plowing into the water and the embankment.
RIDE COURTESY OF MOBILE FIRE-RESCUE
O'Reilly rode to the site on Mobile-Fire Rescue's Phoenix fire boat. Steve Huffman said when O'Reilly contacted him, he felt the department had to help.
"We do more than respond to emergencies," Huffman said. "We help people out, and this was a way to help her out."
O'Reilly said she'll never forget the hospitality and love folks showed her in the port city all those years ago.
"Everything that everybody in Mobile did for us over the days after the accident happened was amazing, truly amazing," O'Reilly said.
And after 17 years, for O'Reilly, this is closure.
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