Accountant quits job to become firefighter after saving lives during Amtrak derailment

DUPONT, Wash. -- Tuesday will mark one year since an Amtrak train derailed near DuPont.

As we remember that day, the lives lost and those forever impacted, we also want to focus on the everyday heroes who did what they could to help.

On Dec. 18, 2017, Daniel Konzelman was on his way to work when Amtrak Passenger Train 501 derailed.

"I noticed how fast it was going. It passed us at 65 miles an hour, which is also not normal," he said. "Kind of pulled on to the shoulder to see what was going on and saw the train coming down the embankment."

Daniel's first response that day was to save lives.

"I remember as I was running along the train tracks I started thinking like 'What kind of injuries will I see? How do I treat a head injury? How do I treat a spinal cord injury?'" he said. "It seemed like the windows were ten feet off the ground, the base of the windows and all the glass was broken and pretty sharp."

He remembers throwing his coat over the window sill so he wouldn't cut his hands on the glass. An Eagle Scout, his skills were put to the test that day.

"I received a lot of first aid and emergency response training from them in their merit badges, first aid life-saving emergency preparedness," he said. "Turned out to be a huge blessing and asset in that situation. I never would have expected all those years in Boy Scouts would have prepared me for that."

Daniel saved over a dozen people that day.

When he finally had a moment to reflect on the incident, he found himself at a crossroads: the intersection of purpose and potential.

"I quit my accounting job and I've been pursuing firefighting because I want to help people on a daily basis," he said. "I feel more alive and more sure of myself today than I ever have."

Daniel realized his first response that day is his true purpose.

"I can't imagine what life would be like if I kept driving."