On March 17, 2001, Stella (Stasia) Riehl boarded the Amtrak California Zephyr in Osceola, Iowa to return home to Colorado Springs, Colorado. This, after suffering the loss of her brother a few days before.
"Uncle Tony" spent the last few years of his life subjected to tortuous abuse at the hands of thieving, unscrupulous attendants within a nursing facility and Stasia lived those times feeling his pain. Now that Stasia had finished raising two children, with four grandchildren nearly adults, she felt her duty was to assure her elderly and disabled brother was safe and away from all harm. She tirelessly arranged for his protection for the previous 4 years to his death on March 15, 2001.
Being elderly herself, she sent her son to Iowa to provide close supervision of Uncle Tony's recovery but the stress from abuse proved too much. Uncle Tony passed away a few short hours before Stasia's arrival to see him one last time. She was devastated that she was not able to do more to provide for his safety but she realized his liberation from suffering by his passing. This allowed her some relief toward guilt that she felt for not being available to attend to him from across many miles.
During the days before boarding the California Zephyr to return home, she found courage to look past the death of her brother and spoke of her anticipation toward her new life before her. A life that no longer included the experiences of misery, torment, or events she had no control over. She was ready to enjoy the rest of her life and expressed her dreams of the days that great grandchildren would fill her heart. That dream was stolen from her as she lay dying along the tracks in rural Iowa shortly after her departure from Osceola.
Those stolen dreams drive this attempt to bring light to the last chapter of Stasia's life, and how it should have never come about. It is an attempt by the family of Stasia to bring forth the truth about falsehoods surrounding the safety of loved ones who travel with, work for, or live by railroad operations across this nation. Since the March 17th tragedy, much has been learned to discern between the facts and the misleadings surrounding the inexcusable terror that hundreds of traveling passengers where forced to endure that evening. It is sad that the truth is being hidden from the public about the irresponsible operations of an industry that cares little about the lives of loved ones. The horror does not end with the events of the Nodaway derailment. Although the railroad industry is not the only industry that shames our great nation by believing that lives are less important than financial reports, it is the industry this organization will focus on. The truth expands well beyond any one railroad operation owner or government entity, and it better defines the term "shocking truth", as more and more is learned everyday. The truth must not remain silenced or the future loss of loved one's lives will continue unencumbered.
The National Rail Safety Alliance is formed to be a clearinghouse of information and a force to approach any issue important to railroad safety. The NRSA is an independent voice speaking out for concerned citizens across this nation. The NRSA accepts NO government or corporate money and donations from private citizens are politely declined.
Public presentations, safety watches with alerts, cooperative electronic communications, and organized influence for provisions assuring the safety of loved ones is the mission of the National Rail Safety Alliance.
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