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Man killed in Amtrak train crash remembered by friends and family

Man killed in Amtrak train crash remembered by friends and family (Family Photo)

Exactly one week after the Amtrak train crash that killed Chris Foley and injured six others, friends and family are remembering a kind, young father whose life was cut tragically short.

“He was one of the most laid-back people you would ever meet,” Joann Scott said. “His biggest joy was being around other people, making people laugh, making people smile.”

The 28-year-old from Louisa, Virginia, was among the crew of a Time Disposal garbage truck when it was struck by a train chartered by GOP lawmakers heading to a retreat at The Greenbrier in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia.

“You couldn’t miss this crash,” Rep. Neal Dunn (R-Fla.) said. “This was a huge trash truck. We hit this thing and you knew you hit something, you just weren’t sure what.”

The NTSB continues to investigate the cause of the crash.

Witnesses say the 10-car train sounded a “prolonged warning” with its horn as the truck was trying to cross the tracks.

The impact from the train, traveling at 61 miles per hour, flipped the truck, nearly tearing it in two.

Lawmakers who were also doctors defied security personnel and jumped off the train to help those who were hurt, but they weren’t able to save Foley’s life; his injuries were just too severe.

“We did CPR for several, several minutes,” Rep. Roger Marshall (R-Kan.) said quietly.

In the days since, Foley’s family is trying to cope and a community is rallying around them with messages of love and fond remembrance.

“Right now, it’s just being there for each other, and being a shoulder to cry on when you need it, or somebody just to vent when you’re feeling down and everything about it,” Scott said.

Her sister, Adriana Puentes, was engaged to Foley; they hadn’t set a date yet.

The center of their lives was their 17-month-old son, Rylan.

Scott says Foley did everything he could to make sure Puentes could be a stay-at-home mom.

“Mostly he was just kind of a family man, he spent time with my sister and my nephew,” she said. “At the time of the accident, it was more of a thing where here my sister had a child, and he was going to do everything he could to make sure that child was well provided for and that my sister was well provided for.”

A GoFundMe account, set up by Time Disposal, has raised more than $90,000 to help with funeral and living expenses.

The company posted a poignant online message: “We find ourselves in shock… we lost an employee and a brother. His one-year-old son and mother of his child lost a father. May he rest in peace. You will be missed by many, Chris.”

Time Disposal also set up crowdfunding accounts for two other employees who were injured.

Scott says her sister and the entire family is so grateful for the help.

“Honestly, it’s just mind-blowing that Chris has brought the community together in this way,” she said. “I think he would be really, really overly happy to see that the community was supporting my sister and nephew like that.”

The Tabor Presbyterian Church in Crozet is holding a vigil on Friday evening to honor Foley’s life.

He was a familiar figure at the sanctuary; his collection route included the church.

Youngsters at Tabor were big fans of Foley and his truck.

“He would come home and tell (Puentes) about the kids he saw that day,” Scott said. “He got so much happiness out of being able to talk to the little kids and tell them, ‘This is what I do.’”

Foley loved animals, fishing, and most of all, his family, she said.

A memorial service is scheduled for Saturday in Charlottesville.

“Chris was an amazing young man who liked to give others a smile,” reads his obituary. “He lived a full life and touched many lives.”

Scott had one final thought.

“I think it’s really important that we hug our loved ones, and remember that everybody is just out here doing their job,” Scott said. “Chris was just a regular guy, like you or me or anybody else. He was doing his job when he passed away.”

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