Off-duty nurse rushes to aid derailment survivors

An off-duty nurse found herself side-by-side with first responders on Monday, helping those injured after the train derailed. Then she discovered she had a personal connection to the tragedy.

An off-duty nurse found herself side-by-side with first responders on Monday, helping those injured after an Amtrak train derailed between Tacoma and Olympia.

For Brandy Wagenblast, it's been a week filled with grief and gratitude.

On her Facebook page, the messages are all about the same thing, Monday's train derailment.

Wagenblast had just finished a 12-hour shift at the hospital and was on her way home, traveling northbound on Interstate 5, when she saw what was happening in the southbound lanes.

"That's not something you really ever see unless it is in a movie," Wagenblast recounted. "It was horrific."

She pulled over and offered to help. She said a fire battalion chief told her to start triaging the injured.

"The people just kept coming and coming," she said.

For the next two hours, Wagenblast used her training and put all of her focus on the passengers. 

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It wasn't until later, when she arrived home, that she heard from a friend who was desperately searching for her husband.

"She asked me if I had seen him. His name was Zack, and I had to tell her, 'no, I didn't see him,'" she said.

Zack Willhoite, a train enthusiast, was supposed to be onboard the train.

"We now know the answer to what happened to him," Wagenblast said.

Her friend's husband was one of three passengers who was killed in the derailment. 

For Wagenblast, the grief is devastating, but the way people came together is why she is so grateful.

"So many men and women were selfless, just trying to get those people off of the train," she said.

She knows those who rushed in saved lives.

© 2018 KING-TV


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