Couple celebrating fiftieth anniversary died in practice derailment


SAVANNAH, Ga. (AP) — Don Varnadoe spent months watching movies about practice journeys on his workplace laptop in preparation for a particular cross-country trip to have fun his and Margie Varnadoe’s fiftieth wedding ceremony anniversary.

He phoned his co-workers in coastal Georgia, the place he bought actual property for many years, from the primary leg of their journey Friday to allow them to understand it was turning right into a dream trip.

“He had known as the workplace and mentioned how excited they had been,” mentioned Robert Kozlowski, managing dealer at Coldwell Banker Entry Realty within the port metropolis of Brunswick. “They had been in Washington, D.C., and headed west.”

A day later, the couple died when an Amtrak practice they had been on derailed in rural Montana.

They had been amongst three individuals who died together with a 29-year-old Illinois man named Zachariah Schneider, in keeping with the Liberty County Sheriff’s Workplace in Montana. Schneider was a software program developer and large Packers fan. He was touring to Oregon along with his spouse, who survived.

The Amtrak practice was going simply underneath the velocity restrict at about 75 mph (121 kph) when it went off the observe alongside a gradual curve, presumably ejecting passengers, U.S. investigators mentioned Monday. The Amtrak Empire Builder that was en route from Chicago to Seattle crashed Saturday afternoon close to Joplin, a city of about 200 close to the Canadian border. The practice, carrying 141 passengers and 16 crew members, had two locomotives and 10 vehicles, eight of which derailed, with some tipping onto their sides. Residents within the farm group mobilized that day to assist injured passengers.

Investigators have no idea the reason for the derailment, however they’re finding out video from the practice and one other locomotive that went over the identical observe just a little over an hour earlier, Nationwide Transportation Security Board Vice Chairman Bruce Landsberg mentioned Monday. The derailed practice additionally had a black field that data every thing occurring within the practice, he mentioned. One chance is an issue with the tracks, maybe from heat-induced buckling, railroad crash consultants speculate.
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Kozlowski was arriving at church Sunday in Georgia when he received a textual content message alerting him of a rumor circulating {that a} tragedy had befallen the Varnadoes. A cellphone name to a member of the family confirmed the horrible information that the couple had been killed within the derailment.

Everyone on the workplace knew in regards to the huge journey and had been excited for the couple. One co-worker joked that Don Varnadoe, 74, might need to depart Margie Varnadoe, 72, at residence when he struggled along with his laptop to print out her ticket.

“He mentioned, ‘That is our journey of a lifetime and we’re so wanting ahead to it,’” recalled Kozlowski, his boss of 18 years.

The Varnadoes had lived 45 years on St. Simons Island, residence to about 15,000 individuals simply over an hour’s drive south of Savannah. Kozlowski mentioned Don Varnadoe cherished to inform the story of how the transferring truck arrived on July 4, 1976 — the two hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

Margie Varnadoe was retired from the Glynn County public faculty system, the place she had lengthy labored as a trainer and an administrator. Her husband bought actual property for greater than 4 a long time, and confirmed no signal of slowing down.

Kozlowski mentioned Don Varnadoe labored every single day and infrequently led the gross sales workers in prayer earlier than conferences. His spouse was beloved on the workplace, the place she usually introduced flowers, brownies and different items. She dropped off one final pan of brownies simply earlier than leaving on their anniversary journey.

“In order for you an instance of learn how to deal with individuals, Don and Margie had been them,” Kozlowski mentioned.
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“With their religion and the way in which they handled individuals, they’re in place, I feel.”

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