One of the three people killed in the fatal Amtrak derailment in Montana on Saturday, which also injured over 50 people, has been identified as a 28-year-old married man.
Zach Schneider and his wife, Becca, were on their way to Portland, Oregon, for a vacation when eight of the Empire Builder’s ten cars derailed near rural Joplin, Montana.
Schneider was identified thanks to a GoFundMe page set up to help the family with funeral expenses.
Schneider was from St. Louis, where he worked as an engineer for Stripe, a payment processing company, according to the Daily Mail.
The GoFundMe page was created by Caleb Morris, a family friend.
“Zach Schneider is one the sweetest, smartest, and most unique people I know,” Morris wrote on the site in a heartfelt statement. “I have always respected his ability to think differently.”
“Zach always used this to push for a better world where everyone was included. Thankful to have been blessed by knowing you, Zach.”
At the time of the derailment on a BNSF mainline track, the train was carrying 141 passengers and 16 Amtrak crew members.
The National Transportation Safety Board has dispatched a 14-member team to the scene to investigate the crash, which includes investigators and railroad signal specialists.
Trevor Fossen, of Joplin, was the first to arrive at the crash site and saw a 300-foot-high “wall of dust.”
“I started looking at that, wondering what it was and then I saw the train had tipped over and derailed,” Fossen told the Associated Press.
He dialed 911 and began attempting to evacuate people. He also called his brother, instructing him to bring ladders to assist in the removal of passengers from the train car windows.
On Sunday, Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn issued a statement about the crash, expressing his condolences to the families of those who died in the crash and promising to work with law enforcement to determine the cause. He stated that the transit company will refrain from making any further statements about the crash until the NTSB makes its final decision.
“We are in mourning today for the people who lost their lives due to the derailment of the Empire Builder train Saturday, near Joplin, Montana, on the BNSF Railway, as well as the many others who were injured,” Flynn said. “We have no words that can adequately express our sorrow for those who lost a loved one or who were hurt in this horrible event. They are in our thoughts and prayers.”
The majority of those on board were treated and released, but five people were seriously injured and remained at the Benefis Health System hospital in Great Falls, Montana, according to Sarah Robbin, Liberty County emergency services coordinator. Two of the patients were in the intensive care unit, according to a hospital spokesperson.
According to Logan Health spokeswoman Melody Sharpton, two others were being treated at a hospital in Kalispell, Montana.
Joplin, a small town with a population of only a few hundred people, is about three hours north of Helena, the state capital. According to the most recent US census data, Liberty County, which is heavily rural, has a population of just under 1 million people, making it larger than the state of Rhode Island.
The accident occurred approximately 150 miles northeast of Helena and 30 miles from the Canadian border.
Locals have been extremely supportive in their efforts to assist the victims.
According to Chester Councilwoman Rachel Ghekiere, about 60 passengers were transported to a nearby school in Chester, where they were given basic necessities.