Injured Veteran and Wife "Thankful" This Holiday for Surviving Train Accident

By Jen Kastner
NewsWest 9

MIDLAND- Thursday marks one week since the deadly Tall City train accident that has shocked and saddened the nation. On this Thanksgiving holiday, one of the injured veterans is trying to look beyond the pain and be thankful that he and his wife are still alive.

Although Sgt. First Class Richard Sanchez and his wife Heather can't be with their three kids this Thanksgiving, they're still in good spirits.

"I'm thankful to be alive this year. I'm thankful that there were a lot less injuries than there could have been. It could have been worse," Sgt. Sanchez told NewsWest 9 from his Midland Memorial Hospital recovery room.

"I'm just thankful that my husband's alive and I'm thankful that my children weren't here to witness this," Heather said.

The couple was onboard the second float during the "Hunt for Heroes" parade. When the train hit their float, Richard saved his wife's life by pushing her off the float. She was scraped and bruised but Richard fractured his spine.

"The recovery is slow right now. It's a lot of the waiting game. I'm waiting for the swelling to go down," Richard said.

After that, comes physical and occupational therapy. Only if those go well, will he be able to walk again.

"We've already had a long road since he was shot six months ago and he'll continue getting better and this is just another bump in the road," Heather said.

Only six months ago, Sgt. Sanchez was shot at while on tour in Afghanistan. One bullet hit his right arm. The other bullet grazed his cheek.

Parade organizers prepared the family a turkey dinner for the holiday and delivered it to his bedside. The Sanchez's tell NewsWest 9 that the Basin has opened their arms to them and given them an amazing amount of love and support.

They're getting by day by day but there's still one question that haunts them.

"I don't know why my wife and I made it. Hopefully that is something I won't have to get the answer to until I have grand kids and I die. Then, there's really only one person who can tell me why she and I made it," Sanchez said.

"It's all I think about and I don't understand why we were lucky enough to survive," Heather said.