(Council Bluffs, Iowa – October 18, 2015)
A 10-year-old girl, attempting to pick up a gift for her cousin’s birthday party, was recovering from brain surgery Monday after she was struck by a second train after she waited for an allegedly standing train at the lighted, gated, double-tracked Union Pacific Railroad grade crossing of South 11th Street and Fifth Avenue in Council Bluffs, IA Sunday at about 12:30 P.M.
“The crossing arm didn’t go up, but the first train was stopped, so I thought I could just go through,” recalled Hannah Dreyer in a clear but scratchy voice to Omaha World-Herald Staff Writer Kevin Cole Monday after doctors at Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, NE had operated on the fifth grader to remove bone splinters from her skull and irrigated around the brain, finally plugging the hole in her skull with a steel plate about the size of a nickel to fix what was described as an “open skull fracture.”
The young victim, for whom several witnesses, all strangers to her and her parents, Marcus and Tracy Dreyer, cared for until Council Bluffs Police and emergency medical responders arrived at the scene, where Hannah nearly died, was interviewed at the Omaha hospital’s ICU.
“The second train was going faster so it, like, hit my face and I got scrapes all over my body,” said Hannah,
“It hurts to walk because of the scrapes on my knee,” she told the World-Herald writer, adding that “I want to say thank you for everyone taking care of me and helping me not be dead.”
Two couples ran from their car and their bikes to aid the stricken youngster as she lay dazed and shivering between the two tracks. The male motorist removed his suit coat and wrapped it around her. “Blood was dripping all over his jacket, and I was really scared.” Hannah recalled. “the people on the bikes asked me where I lived and got my phone number so they could call my mom.”
Council Bluffs Police preliminary reports said that Hannah attempted to cross the tracks after one train had passed, and was subsequently struck by the second train traveling in the same direction on a parallel set of tracks.
Hannah had just walked the two blocks from her home to her aunt’s house to pick up her cousin’s birthday gift and was retracing her steps homeward to have it gift wrapped when rail traffic intervened. News media photos and video of the scene show no guards extending across the sidewalk where little Hannah attempted to cross.
“She was a little bit worried that she might miss the birthday party, and I think that’s why she took the action,” said her mother. “When you have your cousin’s birthday party on the mind and a fun day ahead, I mean, you’re anxious.”
“I’m shaking like a son-of-a-gun, but we’re happy,” said Hannah’s grandfather, at the scene, to KETV News Reporter Dave Roberts. “We could have been making lots worse plans than we are making now. It’s not important how it happened, the important thing is she’s OK,” he surmised.
“I’m lucky to be talking or, really, alive right now,” Hannah told the World-Herald wrier and Council Bluffs Nonpareil reporter John Schreier.