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Amtrak named in crash lawsuit

RENO — An Amtrak attendant trying to lead passengers from a burning train hit by a truck in the Northern Nevada desert alleges in a lawsuit that survivors had to double back past dead bodies in a smoky car and jump out a window because their initial escape route was blocked by a locked baggage car door.

Just moments before the June 24 crash, which left six dead, Lana Dickerson had been working alongside a co-worker who was killed when she was thrust into the “carnage” with several passengers whom she “personally attended to both before and after the disaster,” one of her lawyers said Monday.

In an attempt to lead others to safety, Dickerson “tried to escape the wreckage through a door in the rail car in which she was working, only to discover it was locked, forcing her to lead the group of survivors back through the wreckage, encountering bodies of dead victims and major smoke exposure,” according to her lawsuit against Amtrak and others.

Dickerson, 26, of Worth, Ill., and others were forced to jump down about 15 feet from the smoldering wreckage to the rocky rail bed below, the lawsuit said.

Dickerson was flown by helicopter to a hospital where she was treated for injuries to her head, face, an eye, knees, hands and spine, the lawsuit said.

Another Amtrak attendant hurt in the accident, Alexandra Curtis, of Evanston, Ill., filed a lawsuit in Washoe District Court last week against the truck driver killed in the wreck, Lawrence Valli, 43, of Winnemucca, and his employer, John Davis Trucking Co., of Battle Mountain.

Dickerson’s lawsuit filed late Friday in Washoe District Court in Reno also names the trucking company as a co-defendant, but it is the first to make allegations against Amtrak.

Amtrak has filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Reno against Valli and John Davis Trucking.

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