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Victoria residents Casey and Clayton Heldt were eyewitnesses to the trainwreck that shook Luling and the nation Sunday afternoon.

Driving home from Austin Sunday afternoon, we drove up to a jaw-dropping accident scene in Luling. As you have likely seen on video or read about by now, we came up to the aftermath of the trainwreck involving an 18 wheeler hauling a wind turbine. It turns out, our next-door neighbors, Clayton and Casey Heldt were a few minutes ahead of us and watched it helplessly while it happened.

Here is their harrowing first-person account.

On their way home to Victoria, the Heldt's were returning from Casey's Tejas Trail Run in Bernette, when they drove into Luling and were stopped as a pilot truck began navigating an 18 wheeler carrying a wind turbine behind it through a curve across the train tracks that runs through the tiny Texas town.

Clayton commented right away to Casey that the turn the 18 wheeler was taking through the tracks was askew. " We noticed the truck was having trouble taking the corner" and then Casey offers as soon as Clayton remarked that the truck had better hurry, they saw the railroad crossing arms start to come down. The truck's cargo hadn't cleared the turn or the tracks yet.

 What happened next Casey describes as 'horrific'.

" It felt a lot like you were just stuck holding your breath watching it happen. I was saying Oh, my God, Oh my God, hoping the truck would clear the tracks. I remember feeling like 'This isn't really happening."

The sound of the train horn blaring put everyone there in sheer panic, including the truck and pilot truck driver. But it's the noise after the train hit the wind turbine that was almost indescribable.

Casey explains, "The way it hit, the sound, the metal, it was horrific." Casey goes on to offer her instinct was to jump out of her vehicle after she saw the 18 wheeler cab twisted in the wreckage. Luckily for those that immediately came to render aid, no explosions occurred in the aftermath. And by a miracle, no one has reported being seriously injured.

Casey has seen the viral video taken by the only vehicle in front of them during the accident and says it's "heart-wrenching to watch all over again." She held her breath the first time she watched the video too.

This isn't the first time we've seen vehicles stuck on the railroad tracks before.

For people who travel through Luling frequently, like the Heldts and my family, we know all too well that the lights in Luling can be tricky and vehicles often find themselves stuck on the tracks when the lights turn red and not all of the cars have cleared the tracks. You can literally get stuck on the tracks.

This is the second train accident we've seen in the last few months in Luling.

Understandably, city and county officials have been flooded with media calls so we continue to wait on the exact number of train accidents that have occurred in 2021, but to our knowledge, this is the second train accident we are aware of in Luling in the last few months.

Casey continues.

"I thought about the trainwreck all Sunday night, all day Monday and again at the booster club meeting I attended Monday night. It was THE topic of discussion. On my Facebook page where I had posted photos of the wreckage, people I don't even know were commenting on who should take the blame. I have to say the truck driver's quick reaction likely saved lives. The crushed wind turbine almost made a halo around the busy Farmer's Market next to the track."

As for how the Heldt's felt afterward as they later made their way home, Casey offers her perspective. " We just prayed," Casey says. They continue to do so today.

Photo credit Ingra Lee
Photo credit Ingra Lee

Here is the original post in the button below offering video perspective from DJ Pooks.


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