Carrier Mills man saves family and passengers from burning train

The morning of June 24th will be forever etched into the minds of Loxi Sanders and his family.

They were heading out to California to visit with his daughter and a family vacation on board Amtrak's California Zephyr.

But, on the morning of June 24th at 11:20 a.m. their lives and the lives of more than 200 passengers changed forever, after a semi-truck crashed into the side of their train 70 miles East of Reno, Nevada.

"There was an explosion immediately ignited and flames were just everywhere," said Loxi Sanders.

"People were screaming and hollering. And I'm trying to hold on and grab ahold of my family because if she falls with my son, or if we fall down we're going to burn up because it's all on fire below us."

The Sanders family were riding in the crew car of the train, it's where Amtrak employees ride when their onboard. Sanders has been working as a conductor for Amtrak for the past year.

"We're trying to get through the door, we can't go downstairs because it's on fire. We can't move forward because there's nothing forward but the engine. So we have to move to the rear of the car, and it's on fire."

Sanders and his oldest son Julian break out two of the train car windows for fresh air an escape route.

"He jumps down, I hand down his brother Ricardo and his mother. Then we start handing down people, the ones who can jump, jumped. We moved to the second car and I'm telling people if you can hear my voice crawl this way if you can't walk."

Thinking everyone was out and safe, Sanders jumps from the burning car.

"I get to the ground and they're looking up at the young lady, the Asian girl who is walking around in circles with something protruding from her skull. I climb back up burning my hands and I get to her she passes out. I grab her to me and hand her down to my son," Sanders said.

But, he's not done. Sanders says someone is missing, his friend and Conductor Laurette Lee.

"I turned to my wife and I said, where's Laurette I don't hear her voice. And I'm calling for her."

"And I told my wife I've got to go back in there and find her, I can't leave her in that train. And Monica says to me, Loxi don't go in there you don't need to go back in there."

Sanders didn't listen and instead rushed through the flames engulfing the trains engine.

"Her body was under the door and I lifted it up and there she was. I pulled her out and I picked her up and carried her to the bottom of this hill and laid her on the ground."

Sanders doesn't know how many people he saved on that late June morning there in the Nevada desert, but he says he's no hero.

"It's not about me being a hero. It's about me being at an opportunity to step up and to heed the responsibility and get those people out of that train. And make sure my family was safe."

He did do that and more. Five people on the train lost their lives, and the driver of the semi-truck also died in the crash.

The National Transportation Safety Board is now conducting an investigation into what happened.

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