Train Crash Witnesses Deal With Trauma From Accident

By Geena Martinez
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND - For many, the reality of Thursday's accident has begun to sink in. For others, however, the healing process may be a struggle of its own.

NewsWest 9 sat down with a local counselor who spent time with the veterans involved in the crash to find out what kind of an impact an event like this could have.

A horn blaring, people jumping and then chaos. All things that are forever embedded in the minds of those who saw tragedy unfold in a matter of seconds.

"It can wind up being an ongoing traumatic event," Dennis Wright, a counselor at the Midland Vet Center, said.

Wright has spent the last few days with the veterans and their families who were involved in Thursday's train accident.

"They've been able to function fairly well at this point," he said.

But the trauma from crash is still fresh for the people who witnessed it. Wright said everyone involved is experiencing different levels of trauma.

"For the spouses, most of them have never seen any trauma so they'll focus on this one event," he said.

In some cases, it goes a little deeper.

"We've already had some reports of some of them thinking back that it was an IED, they were back in Iraq or Afghanistan," Wright said.

He said some witnesses may accept what happened as a terrible accident but it can take a toll on others.

"Hear a siren, hear a train whistle, they may wind up becoming very nervous because it reminds them back of what they just went through," Wright said.

And that can have long lasting psychological effects.

But whether it was a veteran on the float or a bystander who watched, Wright said it's important to seek help as soon as signs of emotional distress appear.

"The worst thing a person can do is to say 'I'm just gonna put it out of my mind and I'm not gonna think about it' because that doesn't really happen," Wright said.