East Palestine residents fear for their lives following train derailment

Published: Feb. 5, 2023 at 1:25 PM EST
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EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (WOIO) - The residents of East Palestine are continuing to live in fear for their lives following the train wreck on Friday.

East Palestine resident Nate Velez says he’s never seen anything like what he witnessed that night.

“Whenever we drove up to it, it was like you know watching a movie, it was awe-inspiring, we were frozen,” he said.

20 of the cars involved 50-car derailment in the 9 p.m. crash on Feb. 3 were carrying hazardous chemicals, according to the Associated Press.

The AP reports an evacuation order has been issued, covering a 1-mile radius.

“As soon as we got into town, with the windows up and everything, you could smell it and taste it and I had a headache. I kept saying to my wife, this smells like if you’re painting something and you’re doing it inside and you don’t open a window,” said Velez.

Velez says the magnitude caused him, his family and his relatives to evacuate, leaving everything behind including three households and his business, Velez Engines.

“I was crying at my house because I didn’t want to leave,” said Troy, Velez’s 8-year-old son.

Velez told 19 News they’re hunkering down at a rented location in the next town over and it’s costing them a fortune.

“I’m not, we’re not rich people but can you imagine being in this situation with three families trying to find a place to stay and literally buying everything you need as you go?” he said. “On top of that if you’re like me, my house is one side of the tracks and my business is on the other side, so my livelihood and my home are blocked.”

Mayor Trent Conoway says the town is still evacuated as crews and investigators remain on standby which Velez says is frustrating.

He wants answers about when they’ll be able to come back home to a cleaned-up environment, one that’s safe for all.