A woman traveling alone on an Amtrak train apparently put a small step stool in front of a window and climbed out as the train rushed through rural Missouri at about 50 mph late Saturday night, authorities say.
The woman, in her 70s, survived and was found sitting beside the tracks 16 hours later near the town of Annapolis, about 90 miles south of St. Louis.
"The brush and stuff alongside of the tracks is so thick, I believe, that it actually cushioned her blow," said Iron County Sheriff Roger Medley.
Amtrak isn't identifying the woman publicly but told the sheriff's office they believe she is Rose or Rosie Madison, was born in the late 1930s and was from the state of Mississippi. The sheriff said he hadn't been able to verify any of that information. She had no identification when she was found.
Amtrak says the woman was traveling alone on the southbound train from Chicago to San Antonio over the weekend. The sheriff isn't sure why the woman went out the window; no one saw her go out the window and she didn't leave a note behind, officials say. The sheriff can't say if it was a jump or a fall.
"Her being disoriented, she couldn't really tell us," Medley said. "She said she used to ride the trains in the past, (as far back) ... as the 40s. Who knows if she had dementia. She was very disoriented."
She was taken to a hospital for treatment. Paramedics thought she had a broken leg and possibly broke her hip, as well, Medley said. Her condition was not available Monday.
Marc Magliari, a spokesman for Amtrak, said a train attendant saw her for the last time at 10:40 p.m. Saturday. Nothing appeared wrong, Magliari said. She was traveling in a roomette, a small compartment that sleeps two. It is on the second floor of the train.
"There were no reports of her behaving in an unusual way," Magliari said. "There was nothing unusual about the passenger when they made contact with her."
She apparently went downstairs to a window on a door used for emergency exit. The window, marked as an emergency exit, can be unlatched and pulled toward a person to open.
The emergency exit window was found open, with a step stool in front of it, at about 2 a.m. Sunday.
Magliari said the window did not have an alarm system on it that would have alerted the crew that the window was opened. Magliari said federal standards don't require an alarm system.
The train crew searched the train to see if anyone was missing. They found the woman's belongings still in her room. They paged her over the train's intercom. Then, they alerted law enforcement between De Soto and Walnut Ridge, Ark.
Amtrak told police along the route to be on the lookout for someone and believe the story if they heard someone had fallen or jumped from a train. The Iron County sheriff said Amtrak notified his county at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday about what had happened.
On Sunday afternoon, kids who had been fishing were walking along the train tracks near Annapolis to go back home at about 2:30 p.m. They saw her sitting beside the tracks. They tried to talk to her but she was very disoriented, the sheriff said. One of her legs was badly mangled. The kids went home and got parents and called an ambulance.
Investigators believe it happened at about 11 p.m., because that's when the train would have been going though the Annapolis area.
"We have strange things happen all the time around here," the sheriff said. "You can't make some of this stuff up."
Kim Bell covers breaking news for www.STLtoday.com and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Contact her at 314-340-8115 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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