Boy Scout comforts dying driver after train derailment

Morning In America

MENDON, Mo. (NewsNation) — A 15-year-old Boy Scout rushed from safety to comfort a dying driver after the dump truck he was in was struck by an Amtrak train.

Eli Skrypczak was traveling with his Wisconsin Boy Scout troop Monday afternoon when the fatal train wreck happened in rural Missouri, causing at least seven rail cars to tumble off the tracks and land on their sides. At least three people were killed and dozens of others were injured.

“Seats flew across the place, and nothing in the train stayed intact, pretty much. A lot of the Scouts were on top of the train helping people out of our car,” Eli said during an appearance Tuesday night on NewsNation’s “Banfield.” “We were helping kids, adults and old people. We were just trying to make sure everyone was OK. Everyone on our troop was very calm, and we knew what to do.”

It wasn’t just the Boy Scouts helping out. It was a team effort of everyone on the train, according to Eli.

“It just went slow motion. I was lucky enough to land in a seat and be in the back. I’m thankful for the other passengers for helping out. Everyone on the train was so helpful, it wasn’t just us,” Eli said.

Dan Skrypczak, Eli’s father and the Appleton Troop 73 Scoutmaster, sat down with “Morning in America” to share what Eli had witnessed. Skrypczak, who was not traveling with the troop, said that Eli and his friends managed to get out of the train quickly and rushed to help others.

“Eli and another boy ran towards the front of the train, to try to determine if anybody was hurting in the vehicle. Eli found the driver and immediately started to render aid and comfort. There wasn’t a lot he could do. I know Eli felt horrible,” Skrypczak said.

“He was making indications that he was alive still. And he gave him some of his water and held his hand and tried to stop the bleeding.” Skrypczak told NewsNation’s Adrienne Bankert. “When we finally talked to him, he was pretty shaken up. He is a typical 15-year-old thinking he should be able to do what he can to save somebody,” he said. “(The driver) was hit by a train and unfortunately, you’re not likely to survive. And we tried to explain that to him.”

No one in the Boy Scout group was seriously injured, said Scott Armstrong, director of national media relations for the Boy Scouts of America. The Scouts also administered first aid to several injured passengers, Armstrong said.

“We’re proud of him. We love him for trying. We know that. That’s a difficult situation,” Skrypczak said. “It’s devastating, of course, but he’s a strong kid. He’s got the support of his troop mates, his friends at school here at home.”

It’s too early to speculate on why the truck was on the tracks, said National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy. A team of NTSB investigators will arrive Tuesday, she said. Trains won’t be able to run on the track for “a matter of days” while they gather evidence, she added.

You can watch the full interview with Dan Skrypczak in the player above. This interview was edited for length and clarity.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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