Wichita teacher survives tornado and train crash in less than 2 months

HIVITA, Can. (KWCH) – A Wichita public school teacher and Andover resident who survived the April 29 tornado that tore through part of town and destroyed nearby homes was also one of more than 200 passengers on an Amtrak train that derailed Monday near Mendon, Missouri. As a result of the crash, four people died and dozens were injured. Two months ago, Allen Gallaway’s home in Andover was less than half a mile from the tornado-ravaged area. That night he took refuge with his fiancee. Both were unharmed, but lost power for several days. Since the train derailment on Monday, he has survived two crashes in as many months. On Tuesday, he spoke to Eyewitness News about what he’s been through.

“I’m a little done with it. I don’t need a third thing,” Gallaway said.

Gallaway is a fifth grade teacher at Linwood Elementary School in Wichita. On Monday, he and several fellow teachers were on the Amtrak train bound for Chicago for the annual meeting of the National Association of Educators. About an hour after Kansas City, the train ride took an unexpected turn.

“There was just a huge force that was thrown forward,” he said. “I thought for a second that we just suddenly stopped. And then I see the car in front of me shift and flip, and that was the next thing that happened to us, I remember yelling, “No, come on, no.”

The force of the overturned train threw the other teachers at Gallaway, pressed against the glass in the overturned train car.

Gallaway said the situation could have been much worse if not only volunteers and rescuers, but also other train passengers who came to the aid of as many people as possible.

“There was one person who, I think, was able to open one of the side windows (to) get people out. Really helpful,” he said. “As soon as we were on the roof of the train, he began to help other people get out of the window and get off the train. It all seemed very surreal.”

Gallaway and his fellow teachers, who were on board in the rain, were unharmed, but he said they had not yet heard from Amtrak about the accident.

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