The American Tourist Who Defied Death On a Train

In 2009, 19-year-old Chad Vance began a death-defying journey after he stepped off the Ghan Express when it pulled into Port Augusta station in Australia on its way to Alice Springs. Stretching his legs by taking a walk around town, Vance lost track of time and returned to the station just in time to see his train pulling away from the platform. Except for $10 in his pocket and his digital camera, all of his belongings — including his passport — were on the train. Vance chased the train down the tracks until it stopped while drivers were being changed. He then jumped aboard and banged on the windows of the first-class dining carriage for help, but his pleas were ignored by other passengers. When the train began to move again, Vance squeezed onto an external stairwell and huddled there, wearing only a t-shirt, jeans, and a pair of boots, while the train sped across the landscape and the temperature sank to below freezing. Vance, from North Pole, Alaska, continued to call for help for more than two hours before crew member Marty Wells finally heard his desperate pleas and pulled the train’s emergency brake. When hauled aboard, Vance was shaking uncontrollably, his skin white and his lips blue. The train was about three hours away from its next scheduled stop, and in that time the young man could easily have died of hypothermia or lost his grip and fallen to his death. Vance was given some soup and upgraded to a sleeper cabin so he could have a hot shower. The next day, he was up and touring again…….this time keeping an eye on the clock.
Vance shows how he squeezed into a stairwell