Eagle Scout who helped passengers after Amtrak derailment credits Scout training

Daniel Konzelman, a 24-year-old Eagle Scout, was driving to work with his girlfriend when he noticed an Amtrak train zipping past him.

He was cruising along at 60 or 65 mph, so he knew the train was going faster than that.

“I’d never seen a train going that fast in the past,” he told the Seattle Times. “I drive that stretch every day.”

We now know the Amtrak Cascades 501 train was going 80 mph in a 30 mph zone when it derailed Monday over Interstate 5 in DuPont, Wash. Three passengers were killed and dozens more were hurt.

Konzelman came upon the scene moments later as everyone started braking in front of him.

“I looked up and saw the train was hanging off,” Konzelman said. “I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this was major.’”

Acting fast

Konzelman and his girlfriend, Alicia Hoverson, were in their work clothes. They hurriedly put on some boots and grabbed a flashlight.

They were among the first on the scene.

“Nobody was there, nobody was leading or responding to the incident,” Konzelman told CBS News. “I did my best to sort of take charge of the situation.”

In all, Konzelman, Hoverson and a police officer helped about 15 people escape the train. Many of the victims had broken ankles and bleeding head wounds. Most were in some state of shock.

Konzelman helped as many people escape the dangerous situation as he could. For those who were pinned, Konzelman was a calming presence, comforting them and praying with them until emergency workers could arrive.

Crediting Scouting

Konzelman says his Scout training taught him what to do in an emergency. He became an Eagle Scout on Feb. 25, 2012, as a member of Troop 604 of Eatonville, Wash., part of the Pacific Harbors Council.

As any Eagle Scout will tell you, you never think you’ll need to use the first aid skills you learn as a Scout. Until you do.

“I think it was all those Boy Scout camps I went to and the First Aid merit badge, the Lifesaving badge, that helped me know what to do,” he told the Seattle Times. “I’m thankful for God who gave me the courage to go in there.”

Konzelman’s heroism involves more than knowing how to treat a bleeding wound. It’s about being helpful, friendly and brave, too.

“What would I want somebody to do for me if I was in that position?” he told CBS News. “Or if one of my brothers was in that position?”

Media attention

In any scary news story, they say to look for the helpers.

That’s exactly what major media outlets did after the derailment. They looked for helpers like Daniel Konzelman.

In addition to CBS News and the Seattle Times, Konzelman’s heroism has been covered by the Associated Press, People magazine, ABC News, the Boston Herald, CNN and many more local and national outlets.

His highest-profile appearance so far was Tuesday’s episode of CBS This Morning. After the two-minute piece, which you can watch below, the hosts briefly discussed Konzelman.

“No surprise, Anthony, that that guy is an Eagle Scout,” Gayle King told Anthony Mason.

“Eagle Scouts should be very proud of him today,” Mason responded.

12 Comments

  1. Worked with over 80 Eagle Scouts in my 30 years. Most if not all would have jumped in and done heroric Work. But Dan was outstanding. What comes through was his immediate response and seeing the clear need for leadership. He took control when it was needed. That is the special quality that a super Eagle like Dan displayed.

  2. I do not believe that Dan is an “Active” Scout, but still, are any of the Lifesaving Awards applicable for him since he was rendering First Aid (at from what I understand, great peril to himself) and saved lives.

    • They keep telling me, “Once an Eagle always an Eagle.” So, I’m not entirely sure if being registered with the BSA is truly a prerequisite for Lifesaving and Meritorious Action Awards (https://www.scouting.org/scoutsource/BoyScouts/AdvancementandAwards/MeritBadges/honor.aspx). It used to be trivial to keep scouting alumni on the roster for quite a few years. Many troops did as a mater of course — even one visit a year being valued by the unit. Our litigious society has made that a costly proposition in terms of fees and paperwork.

      In any case, it is likely the local/state police will want to offer him a citation for valor.

      Arguably the highest awards in the land are the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. But, usually those are awarded to citizens with grander, although no more noble, careers.

  3. Everyone in the BSA family is very proud of Daniel. Having the courage and bravery to help others is just part of what scouting is about. The world would be a better place if we all lived by the Scout Law.

  4. I was extremely heartened by Daniel Konzelman’s story. He clearly exemplified and demonstrated the “core values and aims” that we teach our youth — for which he learned through Scouting!

  5. Prepared for life! It’s why we work so hard to get there! When it comes to all the skills we all learned in scouts it’s not if we (or others) need them, it’s when.

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