First Book About Graniteville Accident

By: Erich Spivey
By: Erich Spivey

June 13, 2005
Five months after the deadly Graniteville train wreck, a new book about it is being released. It chronicles the fifteen days after the crash, telling many stories of survival. News 12 has a preview of the book, in a story you’ll see only on 12.

“What were actually going through folks heads while they were trying to survive,” said Carrie McCullough, Harbor House Books.

“Un-Natural Disaster, Stories of Survival” is written by Nina Nidiffer, who shared her story with News 12 hours after the crash on January 6.

“The trains were piled on top of each other and there was nobody there,” Nidiffer said on January 6.

“We first saw Nina when she was on a channel 12 broadcast. She was talking to one of the reporters. She didn’t know it was a deadly chemical spill,” McCullough said.

Harbor House Books then contacted Nidiffer and asked her to write the book, 288 pages of minute-by-minute accounts. Not much groundbreaking information, but a fresh look at the crash that killed nine and forced the evacuation of thousands.

“At 2:30a.m., a train engineer was hurtling north toward a head-on collision that would slam more than sixty tons of liquid chlorine into the still night air,” Nidiffer writes.

There’s still some reconstruction taking place at Graniteville’s ground zero and for everyone who lived around here, a constant reminder of the tragedy here just over six months ago.

“Those in the worst shape were loaded onto ambulances for transport to a hospital. Those who could stand were ordered to strip down so they could be sprayed with water from fire hydrants to remove the worst of the chlorine,” Nidiffer writes.

Interviewed for the book were several survivors, Sheriff Michael Hunt, and Fire Chief Phil Napier.

“Chlorine struck Chief Napier in the face and he choked on heat, feeling as though his throat had been cut,” Nidiffer writes.

“A lot of emergency responders will be very interested in it all over the nation, as far as finding out ideas on what went right and what went wrong,” Chief Napier said.

Memories abound, not bound forever in paperback.

“Un-Natural Disaster” will be released later this week, available at most local bookstores. And there’s another book currently for sale. You can pick up a copy of “Graniteville: Tragedy and Recovery” at Napier’s Hardware Store in downtown Graniteville. Proceeds benefit the Historical Society.


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