PHILADELPHIA, PA (May 23, 2016) – Amtrak derailment survivor Robert Hewett can finally sleep much better having finally connected with the Philadelphia police and fire first responders who rescued him after the May 12, 2015 fatal derailment.
“Finally, I know the identity of these brave individuals and have been able to thank them – even have lunch with four of my guardian angels,” said Mr. Hewett, among the surviving passengers from the mangled first car of Train 188. “I am so grateful to Lisa Hogan, whose husband is Philadelphia Fire Department Lt. James Hogan (Engine 7, Ladder 10), because she saw me on local TV news talking about the frustration of not knowing my rescuers, despite having seen a picture of a group carrying me toward safety, and remembering one at the scene vividly exclaim: ‘He has to go now, the whole back of his head is coming off’. Hearing on May 12th – the one-year anniversary of the tragedy – Mr. Hewett’s moving recollection, and recalling her husband’s chilling account of that night, Mrs. Hogan instantly knew Lt. Hogan was that first responder so concerned about Mr. Hewett’s gaping head wound. And she reached out to Mr. Hewett to share the news and help identify a number of the first responders who came to his aid, including the four of the five police officers shown in that now famous photo of him being rushed to Hahnemann Hospital.
Mr. Hewett learned that besides Lt. Hogan, his rescuers included fire fighter Michael Flacco and Police Officers Padraic Feeney, Kevin McGrorty, Bryan Turner and Sean King. Mr. Hewett, his wife, Judy, son Brian, and daughter Emily, was honored to host the Hogans, fire fighter Flacco, and officers Feeney, and McGrorty on May 18th for lunch in Center City. Unfortunately, officers King and Turner had official police business conflicts, but Mr. Hewett hopes to see them – and perhaps others who participated in his rescue – very soon.
“We all now share a very special bond and I look forward to continuing to stay in touch,” said Mr. Hewett, who despite his own difficult post-derailment rehabilitation, expressed concern over the injuries suffered by Firefighter Michael Flacco. “He was injured on the job, once again putting his life on the line and the welfare of others above his own. We are forever grateful for what these first responders do every day.”
Mr. Hewett, suffered multiple fractures, a collapsed lung, and spent seven weeks in a medically induced coma as a result of the derailment. A resident of northern New Jersey, he has been a staunch advocate of enhanced passenger rail safety systems.