Results may vary. Tragedy on the track. A digital narrative by Logan Balle. I am a survivor of the Tangiwai rail disaster and this is my story.
It was the 24th of December 1953, I was on my way up to Auckland for Christmas with my family, that day I packed my stuff and went to the train station, I was a bit early so I waited outside for the Auckland to Wellington express. The train finally arrived at the station.
I jumped on the train and sat on the 3rd carriage from the front, there were 9 carriages. We passed a lot of stations until we made it down to Waiuru. The weather report said that Christmas eve was fine and there had been little rain. There was no warning that the river would be flooded
I wasn’t worried about the bridge at all so I was about to fall asleep, it was a long trip ahead of me, but as I closed my eyes the trains brakes screeched and squealed I looked out my window and saw the pillars holding up the bridge were gone only the rails were still intact.
I flying into the back of the seat in front of me but it was too late, the train went crashing into the water below, our carriage started to full with water quickly and was soon up too our knees.
I could hear all the women and children screaming and others knocking at the door some of them smashed the windows and swam out I swam out of my carriage and started floating down stream I then saw a piece of drift wood sticking out from the shore I grabbed onto it and pulled myself to shore.
I saw people floating down the river, I wish I could help but I couldn’t do anything. I then wandered upstream and saw ambulances and police cars, I saw other survivors and then saw carriages and bodies that had been washed up on shore.
I found out that 151 of the 285 died I then took another train up to Auckland but arrived the next day. A memorial was held and a monument was put up below the crash site. They did not replace the bridge or make it stronger.