Alabama members join rescue, relief efforts after train crash

Members of the Mobile Alabama Stake assisted in rescue efforts following a crash of a passenger train Sept. 22 that killed 47 people. Some 159 people survived.

It was the deadliest crash in the history of Amtrak, the national railroad passenger corporation in the United States created in 1970 by an act of Congress.The Sunset Limited passenger train jumped the tracks just after 3 a.m. and plunged into Bayou Canot about 11 miles north of Mobile.

As the tragedy occurred within the boundaries of the stake, Church members were quick to move into action, said Teresa Asquith, stake Relief Society president.

After it was determined that no Church members were aboard the ill-fated train, Sister Asquith realized that the Red Cross and other organizations may need volunteers to help feed rescue workers, said Lisa Gaffney, stake public affairs director.

"Sister Asquith and Sister Jo Webb called local businesses for donations," she said. "Twenty local stores donated $3,000 worth of food and supplies. Four hundred sandwiches were consumed in 15 minutes. The sisters fed the workers for five days."

Relief Society members taking part in relief efforts included Debbie Edmonds, Edy Hearn, Leigh Quinnelly, Carol Boyer, Marti Chambliss and Kathy Mehrer of the Semmes Ward, and Sister Webb of the Theodore Ward, said Sister Gaffney.

Among those leading rescue efforts was Larry Hearn, head diver for the Mobile Police Department and ward clerk in the Semmes Ward.

"He and his son Tony, 19, assisted in the recovery of bodies," Sister Gaffney said. "Tony is a volunteer diver for the flotilla."

Sister Gaffney said Sister Asquith has received numerous expressions of thanks from rescue workers, who included the diving crew, boat and crane operators, U.S. Marines, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Mobile Police and Sheriff's departments.

"Several sisters were featured on local television," she said. "The Mobile community has been able to see the Church in action."

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