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Boy Scout Eli Skrypczak comforted dying truck driver after Missouri train derailment
A Wisconsin Boy Scout on the Amtrak train that derailed when it collided with a dump truck in Missouri comforted the truck driver before the man died, the scout’s dad told The Post.
Dan Skrypczak, who is the Appleton Troop 73 Scout Master, said in a Monday night interview his 15-year-old son Eli rushed to the driver’s side once he escaped from the mangled train and found the man lying in a ditch.
“He’s OK. He’s shook now that the adrenaline has worn off, ”Skrypczak said of his son. “When we finally did talk to him, he was pretty upset, he wishes he could have done more.”
“Just trying to explain to him, you get hit by a high speed train, nobody could’ve done much for the truck driver. He did everything he could, he did the right thing, he provided comfort and aid.”
Eli and 15 other scouts, as well as eight adult leaders, were on the train traveling from Los Angeles to Chicago when the train slammed into the truck at a public road crossing. The two troops of scouts were on their way home to Wisconsin after a 10-day backcountry excursion in New Mexico, said Skrypczak, who was not on the trip.
The driver’s death was one of three fatalities from the collision while dozens were injured, including three of the adult leaders and one scout, according to officials and Skrypczak.
The train was carrying 243 passengers and 12 crew members.
Skrypczak said his son found the man in a ditch and called over a state patrol officer once first responders arrived at the scene. They tried to stabilize him, but the man succumbed to his injuries, the father said.
“He’s a typical 15-year-old, he thinks he’s Superman, should’ve been able to save this guy,” the father said.
Later as passengers were still being helped off the train, a woman arrived who apparently knew the driver and wanted to see his covered up remains, Skrypczak said.
“He said some lady was really upset and they wouldn’t let her see the body … but that shook him up, too,” he said of his teenage son.
Eli, who has been in scouts since first grade, was one of several scouts that jumped into action to help passengers following the derailment, Skrypczak said. A handful were able to get off the train and then assisted in any way they could.
The scouts were spread out across the train, including at their seats, in the dining area and the observation deck, he was told.
One scout was actually stuck in a train bathroom for 35 minutes, trapped by the weight of one of the passengers who died in the incident and was up against the door, Skrypczak said.
He heard some of the scouts helped first responders immobilize passengers as they were placed on backboards and sent off to ambulances.
“Any scout leader sees the kids staying calm and being part of the solution instead of the emergency itself, I think any scout leader would be proud of that,” Skrypczak said. “And I am.”
“I’m very, very happy about how they behaved, how they behaved in that situation,” he said. “Obviously very sad that it happened and I can’t wait to hug my kid.”