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When the Going Gets Tough: A True Story From Dupont, Washington

Updated on December 28, 2017

DECEMBER 18, 2017

A day, like any other day, in Thurston County, Washington, near the capitol city of Olympia . . . people rose from bed, ate their morning meals, said goodbye to their husbands and wives and children, and headed out the door to do whatever it is we homo sapiens do on a winter’s day.

It was raining that day, not a downpour per se, but more a steady reminder that northwest weather is always a test of one’s psyche.

The freeway, Interstate 5, filled up early with commuters, as is its norm, and traffic streamed north and south between the Canadian border and the Oregon border.

And then a train derailed and dropped, twenty feet, down upon that freeway.

Thirty tons of metal fell off the overpass onto a busy freeway.

Another thirty tons hung by a coupling, suspended in air above the freeway.

Confirmed dead, as of this writing, three . . . over one-hundred injured . . . in a way, a miracle that more were not killed.

The cause of the accident: the train was traveling 80 mph as it approached a curve designed for 30 mph . . . excessive speed and most likely human error.

But this story is not about human error; it is not about carelessness. It is not about liability and it is not about laying blame on anyone.

It is about the wonder of human beings.

Daniel Konzelman and friend
Daniel Konzelman and friend

Into the Fray

Daniel Konzelman and a friend were commuting to work along I-5 when the unthinkable happened. Konzelman did not hesitate. He pulled to the side of the road, he and his friend exited their car, out into the rain, into the darkness, and ran towards the accident to see if they could help. But instead of walking the periphery of the accident, Konzelman and his friend entered the mangled railroad cars looking for survivors in an accident barely two minutes old.

They entered the mangled railroad cars!

The first two cars had very little damage. The two good Samaritans walked through those cars, checked on a few people with minor injuries, and then continued to the third car. There they had to crawl through broken glass and twisted metal to find the dead, and the survivors, and there they waited with the critically injured until medical help arrived.

Inside the mangled railroad cars, in an incredibly unstable environment, they waited with the critically injured.

“We didn’t want them to be alone,” Konzelman said. “If it had been me, I wouldn’t want to be alone in that situation.”

I Wasn’t There

I was ten miles away, safely tucked in my writing studio, the heater providing warmth, the roof providing dry comfort, so I can’t be 100% certain of what I’m about to say . . .

But I don’t believe Konzelman, or his friend, gave a damn what race the injured were. I don’t think they gave a damn about the religion of the injured, or the political affiliation of those in need. I don’t think they stopped to ask those harmed if they were supporters of Trump. I doubt they asked for their views on pro-life or the legalization of marijuana or border patrol. For sure the national budget was not discussed, and I’d bet my last buck they didn’t chat about fake news or gun control.

It was just two people trying desperately to reach, and help, fellow human beings.

Getting down to basics!

Ya know what?

I’m tired of the negative bullshit!

Worms don't care about your political beliefs
Worms don't care about your political beliefs | Source

Two “friends” of Mine

I use that term loosely, but I have two “friends” on Facebook . . . actually writer friends . . . let’s call them Bill and James for the sake of anonymity . . . and those two can’t seem to post anything without attacking some segment of the population. Oftentimes that segment is the “Far Left,” but it’s much easier to simply say Bill and James attack anyone who does not agree with them on any issue. It’s amazing, really. Instead of just pontificating on the issues and their opinions, like we all do from time to time, they choose, almost daily, to point out the evil in the “other side.”

To what purpose, I ask?

What is the point?

How does that kind of infantile behavior bring us closer as a society . . . as a species?

Perhaps Bill and James simply do not care about bringing us all closer, and of course that is their right . . . they are real big on “rights” . . . they are not required to post anything remotely related to inclusion or brotherly love, and I understand that.

But I wonder . . .

I wonder if, had Bill and James been in that derailed train in Dupont, I wonder if they would have interviewed rescuers trying to find someone who believed as they did before accepting life-sustaining aid . . . or would they have become inclusive at that moment?

I wonder . . .

Hell, we all complain from time to time. I did my share over a year ago after the Presidential election. I was unhappy with the results then and I still am, but I don’t blame the results on half the population. It happened, vent, get over it and move on . . . move on towards compromise and cohesion as a country . . . but there are some who evidently enjoy the kind of fractious contention we see today.

I just don’t get it!

It Happens All the Time

We see these kinds of heroic actions happen almost daily. They play out on our television screens after every mall shooting or car bombing or natural disaster . . . ordinary people doing extraordinary things to help complete strangers. The jogger who climbs into a burning car to pull out a passenger after an accident . . . a mother climbing into the rubble of a building, after an earthquake, because she can hear a child crying inside what was once a structure . . . hell, the volunteers who leave their jobs and drive thousands of miles to help flood victims after a devastating natural disaster . . . during those moments there are no political affiliations . . . there are no religious barriers . .. there are no lengthy debates about the Bible or the Constitution . . . there are only people helping people!

No bullshit . . . back to basics . . . people helping people!

These doors open to all races and creeds
These doors open to all races and creeds | Source

I Never Met Jesus


can’t speak, firsthand, on “what would Jesus d” . . . I never met the man . . . it’s kind of silly for me to pontificate about someone I never met. But from what I’ve read about him, I have a hard time believing he would ignore suffering passengers in that derailed train. I also have a hard time picturing him attacking a group of people simply because they do not agree with him. I’m not a big religious guy, but Jesus is one of those humans I could hang with if we were alive at the same time. It seems like he was a pretty inclusive guy, you know? Seems like he was pretty forgiving, and it seems like he knew a thing or two about love.

So I try to keep that in mind when I’m going about my daily activities. I try to do all things with love. I’m not always successful, because my fellow man can drive me bat-shit crazy just like anyone else . . . but I try. I try to be accepting of others. I try to include all races and creeds. I’m nowhere near perfect, but I know for a fact I don’t go out of my way to attack others.

It just seems like the best way to live, you know? I can’t do this alone. I need you and, truth be known, you need me.

Something my dad once said has stayed with me for decades. He was a WW2 veteran, and he often said “there ain’t no atheists in a foxhole.” Yes, that’s a double negative, but I think you get the point. I’d like to add my own saying after seeing the aftermath of that train derailment in Dupont . . . there ain’t no socio-economic barriers during an emergency. It’s not quite as catchy as my dad’s phrase, but I think you get the point.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to “unfriend” Bill and James on Facebook, and send a friend request to Daniel Konzelman. I much prefer his way of tackling our differences.

2017 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)

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    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Hey Sis! Sorry it took me so long to respond. Busy times around here with all the new chicks, and building structures for our chicken business, and of course it is all done in rain because the damned rain gods will not let up at all!!!!!

      So I'm whining, which is silly because this article is about people who stepped up under horrendous conditions and did the right thing. They are my new heroes.

      But I'll always have one special sister . . . yes, you!

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Catastrophic! How horrifying this accident had to be for all the commuters affected! Simply viewing the photos made my heart race. But as I read on about the heroes in this story, I felt calmer, just as we know the injured were comforted by their presence & concern.

      All the good guys are not dead, bro...no matter how awful things appear to be getting all around us. It is shocking events like this that bring out the good guys and show us all what REALLY MATTERS in this world. Just in time to renew our strength and hope...and clearly to renew our faith in our fellow men and women.

      What an experience. That young man & woman had one intention, just one. Putting their own safety aside, they thought exclusively of those in immediate need. It doesn't get any more amazing than this, bro! Peace, Paula

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Marlene, thank you! It's interesting who steps up in times of need, and who is content with just complaining about the times of need and blaming others for it.

      Blessings always my friend.

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 4 weeks ago from Northern California, USA

      Bill, your love and compassion go deeper than religion, so it's a good thing you are not a big religious guy. And, honestly, we don't need to worry about whether or not Bill or James would have interviewed people. My guess is that they never would have gone anywhere near the incident. They would never even think once about helping another human being.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Dora, and Happy New Year. I'm afraid good stories don't sell advertising on television.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      My pleasure, MizB! I had tears in my eyes when I saw it on the news. What incredible goodness we are capable of.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Bill! I appreciate it very much.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      We do for sure, Flourish! It's a nasty species we've become, I'm afraid. Or perhaps we always have been and I just didn't notice until my sixty-ninth year.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 7 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      So much good to report on, newscasters might have to leave out some of the bad stuff if they chose to share stories about the goodness and kindness of people. Thanks for highlighting this story of unconditional kindness.

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      MizBejabbers 7 weeks ago

      Wonderful story of the two seekers who didn't want the injured to be alone on the train. We need more citizens like them. It sounds like they are capable of, and practice, unconditional love, which I believe is what Jesus taught. Living half way across the continent from WA, I had not read this story anywhere. Thank you for bringing it to our attention, my friend.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 7 weeks ago from Pleasant Gap, PA

      All I can say is, "well said, Bill."

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 7 weeks ago from USA

      You can mute your friends temporarily or unfriend them entirely on FB. Just be sure to tell them why you're doing it so it will have the desired impact. Otherwise they'll either not notice or attribute it to other, unrelated causes. We live in such hostile times.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      All true, Michael my friend. It is my hope that any citizen would do the same. I think I'm being a bit optimistic in that hope, but such is the nature of an optimist.

      Happy New Year and blessings always!

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you so much, Peg. I'm actually embarrassed by my presence on Facebook immediately after the election. I like to think I've grown up since then. Now I work to make my community a better place, and I leave the national political debates to someone else. There's no shortage of them out there.

      Happy New Year my friend!

    • Michael-Milec profile image

      Michael-Milec 7 weeks ago

      The heroes of your story, have done what in the course of life would every human be prompt to do by the innate sympathy to extend help in time of need . Or am I too utopian ? The proverbial "Good Samaritan" incident is known to western civilization roughly for two thousand years now. Learning from Jesus of Nazareth who came from heaven to serve and to show how serving a fellowmen is practicable in case of Good Samaritan said " Go and do likewise"...

      What if that would be me, comes to mind when seeing tragedy in midst of catastrophe. Helping others in need comes as naturally as eating breakfast... After a few hours next meal is necessitous . Opportunity doing good never ends. It is a reciprocate "law of love."

      Have a blessed 2018 year of the Lot my friend.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 7 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

      Amazing when people go out of their way to help the injured, the sick, the dying. To give comfort to one's fellow human beings in their time of need - those acts are the essence of love which is what I believe that Jesus hoped we would put above all else including political affiliation, race, creed, etc.. Thanks for another post that identifies a good deed by good people.

      I understand the frustration with Facebook. Even my family members can't seem to let go of the outcome of the last election and move on. I have made a resolution to scroll past or hide any of the negative posts that seems to be overtaking the social media sites. I've been a lot happier over the past few weeks after spending less time on them.

      I like what you said here. "Hell, we all complain from time to time. I did my share over a year ago after the Presidential election. I was unhappy with the results then and I still am, but I don’t blame the results on half the population." Thanks for that, Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Aww, thanks, Peggy! I was energized and inspired by the story of Daniel. He is my kind of people for sure.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 7 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      I appreciate how you summarized what is most important in life. Love is truly the answer and as you pointed out love has no natural barriers. True love surpasses colors, economics, politics and more. It is inclusive...not exclusive. Those people who put themselves on the line for others are the embodiment of love. There are many good and selfless people around like Daniel Konzelman. Sadly the others who are bigoted, narcissistic and divisive seem to get more press these days. Kudos to you Bill for celebrating the good and sharing some love.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Janine! Holidays are crazy times, so missing an article is understandable for sure. Happy New Year and thank you for your friendship and loyalty.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 7 weeks ago from New York, New York

      Seriously not sure how I missed this one, but again been a bit of a crazy week with the holidays and the kids being home. But still appreciated your tale of those two heroic people who entered the railroad cars here. Thanks for ending this year on a more hopeful note. Now wishing you and your family a very, happy, healthy New Year. ;)

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thanks for checking in about that, Linda. I immediately thought about you and your family.

    • billybuc profile image
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      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I couldn't help but wonder, Linda, if I would have had that kind of bravery. I hope I would.

      Happy New Year, Linda, and thank you!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Lori! Maybe I should just stay off Facebook. That way I would never have to deal with people like Bill and James.

      Happy New Year Lori!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I know, Rasma, it is a painful story to tell, for sure. Human error certainly costs us a lot of good people.

      Happy New Year, my friend.

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 7 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, it was by the grace of God that our younger daughter had stayed with us Sunday evening (with her kitty) and then went to work in Dupont. On a "normal" Monday she would have left her home in Lacey, gone to work in Dupont...and then not be able to get back to her cat.

      If Mr. Carb Diva had still been working at the Washington State Dept. of Ecology, he would have taken personal days.

      Yes, we were (or could have been) inconvenienced, but that is nothing compared to the pain that 100 people endured and are still dealing with.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 7 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      You've raised some important points in this article, Bill. The story about the two people who entered the damaged railroad cars is very impressive. Their bravery and kindness is a great example for us.

    • lambservant profile image

      Lori Colbo 7 weeks ago from Pacific Northwest

      I totally agree with you. In tragedy and calamities, extraordinary, common people could care less about the victims opinions and affiliations. They are only concerned with the welfare of human beings. What an intimate beautiful connection between strangers.

      As for Jesus, I could go on and on about his love and compassion. He is love and compassion, and the greatest forgiver there can ever be, and a Savior for all who call upon his name. Truly he gave the greatest sacrifice. Great message here Bill.

    • Gypsy Rose Lee profile image

      Gypsy Rose Lee 7 weeks ago from Riga, Latvia

      A wonderful story full of heart. Just wish it had been a simple story. I have put in prayers for these people. I think what the two did to help the injured shows they truly have hearts of gold.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you, Stages, for a beautiful comment. That should be our primary goal for 2018....create a climate of compassionate response to all. Thank you for that and blessings always.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Kari!

    • The Stages Of ME profile image

      The Stages Of ME 7 weeks ago

      Wonderful article Bill,

      I too had friends near to this event. I also find it sad that many of humanity choose to separate as opposed to bring people together.

      One can hope that in disaster all would do the right thing in caring for others.

      I have been blessed time and time again by the miracles of God on this earth. I am thankful for His example in Jesus the human form of His Spirit. Thankful for each breath to serve, and thankful for your article to shed light on the positive actions of these citizens.

      We can all be better in the climate of compassionate response in crisis. I pray we will step up to the call.

      Blessing always to you.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 7 weeks ago from Ohio

      Happy New Year to you too, Bill.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Kari, you are speaking my language. Thank you for your thoughts and Happy New Year to you.

    • k@ri profile image

      Kari Poulsen 7 weeks ago from Ohio

      I'm with you, Bill. Life is about the building up of others, not the tearing down. I cannot understand people who continuously tear others down. I assume they do this because they have a fragile ego and cannot feel good unless they make someone else feel bad. I try to forgive and at times I need to confront. I may talk about how their actions affect others, but I would never tell them they are bad. The actions are, but people arent'. I truly believe we are all connected and if we hurt another, we are hurting ourselves.

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      Thank you Linda! I'll bet that accident wreaked havoc on traffic in your area, didn't it? Such a tragedy!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I totally agree, Heidi! I can only watch about 30 minutes of the news. Any more than that and I feel myself going downhill. :(

    • Carb Diva profile image

      Linda Lum 7 weeks ago from Washington State, USA

      Bill, the train derailment a few weeks ago changed so many lives. But even in this, there some triumph--the love of mankind manifest in those brave heroes who risked everything to help strangers. Thank you for reminding us that despite all the negativity and bile in social media there still is good in hearts.

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 7 weeks ago from Chicago Area

      What I think is interesting is the media's "negative bias" when it comes to news. Just think what would happen if they focused on all that's good in the world. Thanks for sharing the positive!

    • billybuc profile image
      Author

      Bill Holland 7 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

      I will too, Mary! Thank you and Happy New Year.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 7 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

      What a great reminder as we welcome 2018. Yes, time to get out of our own exclusive world and try to seek out what binds us together as humans and celebrate this. I don’t know how I’ll fare but I’ll just keep trying.

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