DuPont community holds candlelight vigil for victims of train derailment

(KPTV/Bonnie Silkman)

An emotional candlelight vigil in DuPont Wednesday night honored the three lives lost in the tragic Amtrak derailment.

People who live in DuPont tell FOX 12 that the small city has been a ground zero since the deadly crash.

Right after the train came off the tracks, DuPont city leaders said 21 survivors were rushed to city hall. There, victims received medical treatment and reunited with their families.

Three nights later, a candle light vigil took place at city hall, remembering the lives lost on the tracks.

“The candles represent that spark of hope in everyone’s heart, it might be small right now, but eventually it will turn into a roaring fire of love and compassion,” said Boy Scout Michael Forbes at the vigil.

With the warm glow of candle light and emotional words of prayer, DuPont honored the three victims who lost their lives.

The heartbreaking sight of a train dangling over I-5, and its deadly cost, is forever engraved into the history of the small city.

“We didn’t know them, but now they’re part of our family,” said Mayor of DuPont, Mike Courts.

Officials said Zack Willhoite and Jim Hamre were friends and train enthusiasts, both didn’t survive the derailment. The third victim is Benjamin Gran.

“Strangers we did not know were involved in a terrible tragedy in our city, we embraced them as our own. This Christmas three families got the worst news they’ll ever get,” said Courts.

Courts told FOX 12 that support all across the country continues to pour in to his city. All the way from the President of the United States, to the local boy scouts, who organized the candlelight vigil.

“I’m very sad that these people died, it’s really scary,” said 6-year-old Jack Sommerville.

Group singing Silent Night in DuPont for #Amtrak victims. @fox12oregon @Amtrak— Bonnie Silkman KPTV (@BonnieSilkman) December 21, 2017

“The CEO of Jack In The Box called and started sending us sandwiches. I was called by the White House asking if we needed anything,” said Courts.

Courts said DuPont City Hall was a fitting scene for the touching ceremony.

“This was ground zero, this was epicenter right here. People who were not wounded went over here, people who had injuries went over there. We were doing triage on people there, chaplains were here,” said Courts.

“I know DuPont was kind of against the train for a while, but we never thought something this bad would happen here,” said Forbes.

Locals of DuPont said they’re trying to make sense of the unimaginable. They hope Wednesday’s vigil is the first step.

Mayor Courts said it was a fitting moment to honor the three men who died, and to pray for those in the hospital still recovering just before the holidays.

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