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Montanan recognized for life-saving actions during train derailment

Posted at 3:12 PM, Nov 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-05 17:12:28-04

GREAT FALLS — The Amtrak train derailment along Montana's Hi-Line in late September claimed the lives of three people and injured many more - but it likely would have been even worse if not for the actions of several people who jumped into action to help rescue people.

Among them: Daniel Hutchinson of Wolf Point and his son, two of the passengers on the train; they were on their way to visit his granddaughter in Seattle.

After the derailment, Daniel used his Navy training, and his son used his Marine Corps training, to help the other passengers.

"We felt the track get kind of rough and then we felt kind of a big bump," Hutchinson said about the crash. "And then I heard gravel noise and we were slowing down fast. And I was sitting next to the window. I was thinking if this thing goes over this window is going to be in the gravel. And so I just kind of skooched down onto the floor and you could hear brakes and gravel and we were slowing down pretty fast, it still took a little bit to get completely stopped."

Hutchinson said that as soon as the train stopped he started helping.

"I hollered through the car I said is everybody all right, is anybody injured," he said. "Everybody check your neighbor. Everybody look around at your seatmate, the people sitting close to you. Look around and make sure. Is there anybody injured in case they can't answer for themselves. And everybody looked around. No, there's no injuries here. Nobody's injured. Okay. Here's what we need to do. We need to exit the car. Just gather up your stuff and we'll just file on out of here. Just move on out of here just in case something happens and we end up with a fire or something, we'll already be out of here."

And he says others joined the rescue effort: "There wasn't anybody there that wasn't willing to help if they could help. I just say a prayer of thanks that the good Lord put me in the right place at the right time to be of service that I can help somebody. And let my training and everything kick in and do what I did and to help make it better for some other people."

U.S. Senator Steve Daines of Montana formally recognized Hutchinson as "Montanan Of The Month" for his actions.