Amtrak passenger shares story of survival after fatal wreck


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PROVO -- A Utah woman is among the dead killed in last week's terrible truck and Amtrak train crash in Nevada, and several other Utahns were on the same train as it headed west.

Authorities have identified 34-year-old Cheuy Ong from West Jordan as one of the six people killed in Friday's accident.

Johnny Spelta was on the Amtrak train when the tragedy happened in the desert of Nevada.
Johnny Spelta was on the Amtrak train when the tragedy happened in the desert of Nevada.

Johnny Spelta, a BYU student living in Provo, was traveling to California on the Amtrak train with his wife, mother-in-law and sister-in-law. They were headed to a wedding in San Francisco when the tragedy happened in the desert of Nevada.

Here is his powerful story of survival, in his own words:

"When I opened my eyes after the debris had fallen all over me, I thought I had died and gone to hell. The fire didn't start yet, but people were crying and screaming all around me. "The lady in front of us didn't make it, and we're incredibly lucky. I'd like to say blessed, but I don't feel that the Lord loved us any more than the people in front of us. And I don't want to put any offense to their families at all, because to them, this wasn't a miracle, this was just a sheer tragedy.

"While I was climbing out of the wreckage my sandals fell off and the nicest kid took his shoes off and let me have them.

"You really start counting your blessings, and just giving a barefooted, half-naked man some sandals, that was the nicest thing I'd ever seen happen.

"I really appreciate all of the help we received because we really needed it, and that was our darkest hour.

"I'm going to make sure that I honor those who helped me and the heroes that I witnessed, and I want to make sure the victims and the people who passed away and their families, I want to make sure I live better for them."

Fortunately for Spelta and his in-laws, none of them were seriously hurt; they were treated and released from the hospital.

Spelta says he is relieved that his wife, who is expecting a baby boy in just two months, is in good condition, as is the baby.

Email: spenrod@ksl.com

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