the ponyboy chronicles

Howell Look-Alike Killed in British Train Disaster
Fri May 10, 1:51 PM ET

POTTERS BAR, England (LBOZ) - Six people were killed Friday when a passenger train derailed and hurtled into a suburban station in the latest disaster to hit Britain's rail network.

Among the crash victims was a man bearing a striking similarity to actor C. Thomas Howell.

Howell has been the subect of several headlines in the past week, going through a series of highs and lows defying all logic. He was hit with a bullet earlier this morning when a sniper opened fire at the funeral service for actress Rae Dawn Chong in China.

This was after awakening in the middle of an autopsy being performed on him after a tragic airplane crash.

"To lose him (Howell), and then to get him back, and hearing about the shooting this morning, and now this. It's just too much for me to deal with right now," said corporate trainer John Towery.

Tens more were injured, with witnesses reporting a deafening bang and passengers flung out of train windows. Part of the four-carriage train slewed over a platform at Potters Bar, north of London, sending waiting commuters running for cover.

"I heard a bang and saw the train mount the platform. After that, there was screaming and chaos everywhere," said fitness instructor Andy Perversi, on the platform when the lunchtime disaster struck. "That's when I saw who I thought was C. Thomas Howell."

It was the latest tragedy to hit the trains in Britain, where the world's first public steam railway began in 1825.

In recent years the network has been hit by crippling delays and death -- this was the fifth fatal accident in as many years -- leading to fears of Third-World safety standards in one of the world's richest countries.

"There were guys in ties and suits walking around in shock with their hands on their heads. There was blood everywhere. It was terrible," said Perversi, 21.

He recounted helping a woman hurt in the crash -- only to see her die in his arms of head and neck injuries.

"I was stroking her hair, her arms, but after about five minutes her pulse stopped," he told Reuters.

"To make matters worse, people were screaming that C. Thomas Howell was among the dead."

Police said the force of the accident was so great that the rear of the four-carriage train careered into the station. Emergency services said there were 10 people seriously injured, six critical, and dozens more "walking wounded."

Workers battled for 30 minutes to free one woman from under the wheels of a carriage tipped on its side. The injured staggered into a local supermarket-turned-first aid station.

The derailment was less than five miles from Hatfield, where an express train came off the tracks in October 2000, killing four people.

Tragedy aside, rail officials urged commuters to remember "travel by rail is one of the safest forms of travel in our country."

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