MENDON, Mo. — Four people are dead after an Amtrak train heading to Chicago crashed into a dump truck at an uncontrolled crossing in north-central Missouri.
Officials said there were more than 200 passengers on the train, including members of a youth group from Our Lady of the Valley Parish in Reading. In a Facebook post, the church said a group was on the Amtrak train following a mission trip to Tohatchi, New Mexico.
"Excuse the language, but I called it a mission trip from hell ended this way," said Fr. Dale Jamison, a priest for St. Mary Mission in Tohatchi.
Jamison said the group from Our Lady of the Valley included six people ranging in age from 14 to 20 years old and three adult chaperones. Every year, the parish in Reading sends such groups to lead vacation bible school for children on Navajo land around the St. Mary Mission.
This time, the group spent time with seniors living alone on the reservation, Jamison said. The youth also learned about Navajo culture and repaired and painted white crosses on Navajo graves.
"It's quite beautiful and quite touching," Jamison said.
After leaving the mission, the group boarded an Amtrak train home. When the train derailed near Mendon, Missouri Monday, one of the chaperones called Jamison's phone right away.
"She was shaken," Jamison said. "Some (of our group) were taken to hospitals in Kansas City 100 miles away. She was very concerned and very broken (in) tears. Obviously, it's a very traumatic experience: 70-(miles per hour) train coming to an abrupt end, stoppages and then cars tipping over."
In an update on social media, the church said four parishioners were taken to the hospital to be checked for concussions or other injuries.
"We are OK," the church said. "Lots of sore backs and necks, but we all have our lives. People we met on the train are not OK. Please pray for everyone involved."
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati did not return calls or messages for comment.
Considered a twinning parish with St. Mary Mission, Our Lady of the Valley members send thousands of dollars a year to keep the work in New Mexico going. Still, the youth mission trips make it personal for Jamison, who plans to visit Cincinnati to show the supporters gratitude.