A train crash on the New Jersey-New York subways in January caused chaos and left a man dead, sparking an Amtrak safety investigation.
In a story published Tuesday by The American Conservatives, investigative journalist Paul J. O’Brien and former Amtrak engineer Michael R. Riesen explain why an Amtrak derailment in New Jersey last year was a terrible decision.
The story is titled, “An Amtrak train crash that will change your life.”
It was an accident.
It was a horrible accident.
And we were all watching it unfold, as it happened, in front of us.
And I thought to myself, “How can I help?
How can I get the truth out there?”
Because we were witnessing an Amtrak accident, I thought, “I could be a part of it.”
I had been a train engineer for 10 years when the train crash happened, and I’d been to every train derailment that had occurred in the United States.
And I’d seen the same train crash, but I’d never been on the train that day.
And that was the day I was on the first train of the day, a train that had just left Philadelphia.
And the train was going so slowly, it was like it had no brakes.
And it was very quiet.
And this train is supposed to go at 200 mph.
And suddenly, the brakes are on, and it starts going like a wild horse.
And this thing goes all over the place.
And then it crashes head-on into a stop sign, which was on a busy street.
And that’s when the brakes go off.
And the next thing you know, it’s going over the median and hitting the train itself.
And when it hits, it starts rolling and breaking the windows on the cars.
And one guy is dead, another is badly injured.
And when it came time to bury the body, I had no idea that the train had already been broken into.
And in the months after the crash, the police, who were trying to find the car, couldn’t get it back.
And my husband had a phone conversation with the owner of the car.
He had a call from someone in the family who had been there the day before.
And he said, “This train belongs to my father.
This train belongs in the garage.”
The story ends with the family asking for the money they were told they were supposed to get from the train company to pay for the funeral.
And they are told, “They’re all dead.
We don’t have a penny.”
And I’m thinking, “Man, they’re all in there.
The family could have gotten a thousand dollars from the company.”
And the family decided to take their own life, and that was a choice they made.
So the family made the decision to take a bullet.
And then it’s like, “Oh, we’re not going to let that happen again.
We’re going to have to make this right.”
So what happened was a train derailed and hit the back of a tractor trailer.
And there was this guy in the tractor trailer who had a head-to-toe black belt in Judo.
And his name was Mark Condon.
And Mark had just graduated from the same college as me.
And just a year earlier, Mark had taken an hour-long class in Judochi, and he’d had two weeks to go over his curriculum.
And in the class, Mark taught me how to be the best Judo instructor possible.
And my teacher said, I think I’m going to take this class.
And after the class was over, Mark got a call and he said that the police were at the scene.
And so the police officers said, we have to go in there right away, because you can’t do this in a way that you don’t know is dangerous.
So we go in, and there’s a guy in a bulletproof vest and he’s pointing a gun at the police officer.
And now the police are trying to figure out what’s going on.
And their goal is to figure this out and arrest this guy, and then they go back in there and arrest the guy.
And we’re on the phone with Mark, trying to make sense of what is going on in this situation.
And at this point, Mark was a young guy, he was going through his first year of Judo, and what he was trying to do in that class was get me to learn how to get under a person’s skin, how to take them down.
And it was a very violent situation.
I’m not sure if he could have done it safely.
And, you know–there’s just no way.
And what he needed was a teacher.
And he wanted to have somebody who would give him that type of training, and who would be able to be there, and at that point, we talked about the fact that he didn’t have the training to be able do it.
So that’s how we found Mark Cournons company