Photo of Cheri McKenzie's scalp wound (Source: Cheri McKenzie)
By Connie Leonard - bio | email Posted by Charles Gazaway - email
LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - As the Kentucky Department of Agriculture releases its report on the Louisville Zoo train crash, which cited speed and inadequate training among the problems, an injured victim of the crash speaks out. Cheri McKenzie is a life-long patron of the Louisville Zoo. On the day of the crash, she and her family were just finishing a day of fun when the unthinkable happened.
"There were so many people hurt that day," Cheri said.
It was a nightmare the Louisville grandmother thought could never happen at her beloved zoo.
"It was a runaway train," she remembered.
Cheri was on the train with her daughter-in-law and two young grandchildren, 1-year old Marcus and 3-year-old Alyssa. Cheri suffered serious injuries in the crash - from a crushed disc to a deep head wound. Both are painful and constant reminders from that day. Cheri also remembers how her daughter-in-law noticed her injuries.
"She goes: 'Oh my God, Cheri!' She said: 'Your head!' And I didn't even know that blood was all over me," said Cheri.
When the train crashed, Cheri and her family were in the second car. Before the crash, Cheri said they noticed the train was gaining speed and the operator could not slow it down.
"I could hear a man crying and screaming really loud," said Cheri.
Cheri said the car they were riding in was the one that derailed first. When she saw they were about to hit the gravel, Cheri said she covered her granddaughter.
"Then I remember jumping up and watching her lay with her arms spread out," said Cheri.
The train pulled the two about 40 feet through the gravel.
"When I turned to her and told her not to move, I was going to get her mom and she just clinched her fists and she just screamed," Cheri said.
It is a horrible memory, but one this victim is willing to share in the hope it will raise awareness about safety so future ride operators will have the equipment and experience they need.
Cheri says her daughter-in-law had an injury to her arm, but for the most part, she and the children are doing ok. However, Cheri said they may always be a little scared about getting on train rides.
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