Rail buffs killed in Amtrak train derailment couldn’t wait for faster trains – National

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SEATTLE – They weren’t simply two guys who cherished trains.

Jim Hamre and Zack Willhoite have been additionally bosom buddies of their ardour for public transportation who had excitedly awaited the day higher-speed trains might zip by means of their house turf.

The 2 friends hopped on an Amtrak practice collectively Monday, changing into among the first passengers to take the maiden voyage of a sooner route between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle.

Hamre, 61, and Willhoite, 35, have been among the many three killed when the practice going 80 mph in a 30 mph zone derailed south of Seattle and toppled some vehicles on a freeway under. Dozens of others have been damage, some significantly.

READ MORE: 81-year-old Amtrak survivor says practice derailment felt like an explosion





Household and mates stated Tuesday that they have been devastated by the deaths, describing the lads as devoted rail advocates who have been cherished by many. They have been each educated concerning the technical elements of trains and had spent their lives advocating for such a route.

“Yesterday was a second of nice happiness for them, which makes this so heartbreaking,” stated Carl Fowler, a pal who has labored with Hamre and Willhoite in rail advocacy for years.

He added: “Regardless of yesterday’s tragedy, the Cascade hall that they constructed will likely be their monument.”

Hamre got here from a railroad household – his father labored for the Milwaukee Highway line that ran from Chicago to Seattle, Fowler stated. Hamre labored summers for the road between research at Washington State College within the 1970s.

READ MORE: Investigators trying into whether or not Amtrak engineer was distracted, official says

He retired just a few years in the past after a profession as a freeway engineer on the Washington transportation division. Fowler and Hamre took in depth rail-centric trip excursions the world over.

“He was the brother I by no means had. He might end my sentences, my ideas. However what I most admired about him was his kindness, his dedication, his extraordinary decency,” an emotional Fowler stated.

WATCH: Have been considerations raised concerning the tracks previous to lethal Amtrak derailment?





Hamre and Willhoite additionally labored collectively as volunteers on the board of All Aboard Washington, a citizen rail advocacy group. Willhoite served as director of data know-how, and Hamre was vice-president and publication editor since 1988, writing enthusiastically in a current on-line put up concerning the new route that travels alongside refurbished freight tracks.

The $180.7 million challenge was aimed toward rushing up service by bypassing a route with quite a few curves, single-track tunnels and freight visitors.

“They have been trying ahead to it, in fact. They have been having the chance for the primary official run of a model new route,” stated Lloyd Flem, government director of All Aboard Washington.

READ  MORE: Conductor tells dispatcher ‘we’d like EMS ASAP’ following Amtrak practice derailment

Flem stated he’s identified Hamre for greater than three many years. Hamre, who lived together with his mom in Puyallup, was a groomsman at Flem’s wedding ceremony 25 years in the past.

Pierce Transit stated Willhoite was a customer support assist specialist who was admired by his colleagues.

He was a humorous, witty laptop genius who helped analyze bus schedules and was dedicated to “balanced transportation,” a European ethos of decreasing reliance on private autos, Fowler stated.

WATCH: Amtrak President and CEO discusses practice derailment  


Willhoite additionally loved going to Star Wars conventions and renaissance festivals, Flem stated.

The lads have been members of the Rail Passengers Affiliation, in response to group president Jim Mathews, who known as Hamre one of the vital revered and efficient rail advocates within the nation.

“Jim mixed personability and kindness, and paired it with an intricate and detailed data of transit coverage and technical perception. This made him an especially highly effective advocate and an inspiration for others,” the affiliation stated in a press release.

Hamre’s niece Rachel Topper stated she has been notified of her uncle’s dying however that the household had no additional remark. In a Fb put up, she stated they have been heartbroken.

WATCH: Conductor trainee with engineer in Amtrak practice cab NTSB confirms





Willhoite’s father-in-law, Thomas Tomblin, stated his daughter was in a state of shock and grieving the sudden dying of her husband. The couple received married in recent times.

Tomblin stated he was completely satisfied that his daughter had discovered Willhoite.

“She’s doing the perfect that may be anticipated,” he stated. “I’m simply specializing in the issues a dad has to deal with.”

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