Graniteville: 3 Years Later

By: Gene Petriello Email
By: Gene Petriello Email

News 12 First at Five, Jan. 4, 2008

GRANITEVILLE, S.C. --- It was a night we'll never forget: a train crashed in Graniteville, and deadly chlorine spread while thousands slept. Now some are trying to move on, while others say they don't want to talk about it. But it's one thing people who lived in Graniteville three years ago will never forget: January 6, 2005.

"We thought we was having an earthquake. The windows was rattling," says Franz Lawson.

"Came outside -- didn't see anything. It was very quiet and still. So, we went back in," says his wife Peggy.

Today, quiet. But this scene on the 6th of January in 2005 anything but. 2 trains collide. Chlorine spilling into the town. 5400 people within a mile of the crash forced to leave their homes. Two of them were Peggy and Franz.

"We had nothing. We had to go get clothes and go buy clothes because we could not get back in," says Franz.

"It was just terrible. Terrible," says Peggy.

They live about 250 yards from the crash. They were forced to live elsewhere for 15 days. When they could finally go back home...

"Two daughters, son-in-law came home and helped me clean up this house. We had to just clean everything," says Peggy.

Franz came home from the hospital after being treated for another unrelated illness.

"We feel very lucky. We're very thankful for being where we are today. And a lot of people got killed and a lot of people had problems," says Peggy.

These two lucky. But not the 9 who died and are remembered on a memorial. And now, two drawers full and going on the third at the Aiken County Courthouse. All lawsuits related to the crash.

"We try not to think about it. We don't think about it. It's done. It's over. We're still living," says Franz.

"I've kind of forgotten about it unless someone brings it up," says Peggy.

The trains still ride the rails through town and the horns still blow.

"In the beginning, everything I would look down that way and I can see the trains go by, I had a bad feeling. As time goes by, I don't think about it anymore," says Peggy.

"We hear so many, they don't bother us," says Franz.

"We're just trying to go on with our lives. Live the best we can. That's about all we can do," says Franz.

You have until 5PM on Monday to file lawsuits with the Clerk's Office in Aiken County.


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