Graniteville derailment survivor has message of hope

By: Jorge Lopez Email
By: Jorge Lopez Email

News 12 at 6 o'clock / Sunday, Jan. 6, 2013

GRANITEVILLE, S.C. -- Eight years ago today, tragedy hit the small town of Graniteville. A train derailed and chlorine rose to the city's clouds. The derailment killed nine people and left countless others with painful memories.

While some are no longer living in the small Aiken County town, one family stayed and has a message of hope.

Porter Walker Sr. sat in one of the pews at Bethlehem Baptist Church and listened to his sister, Louisiana Sanders, sing with her church choir. However, eight years ago, today, he was dealing with the train derailment in Graniteville.

Walker lived and worked only a few feet from where the derailment took place. He visited the site on Sunday with his sister. Despite the tragedy, he says that just being able to come back is a good feeling.

"Just to be here, it feels great," Walker said.

He says he will never forget, Jan. 6, 2005, and that he can still remember hearing the noise from the derailment.

"It was a whole lot of crashing going on. I said man, somebody done hit a car down there," Walker said.

The accident also made an impact on Walker's sister. Louisiana Sanders wants everyone to always remember what happened in the early hours of 2005.

"We should never forget the 10 and others that lost their lives during that accident. We should do as much as we can to move this community forward," she said.

Walker agrees but added that the people of Graniteville are unique and strong.

"The people in Graniteville are resilient and they don't give up," he said.

Walker and Sanders pray every day for all those effected by the wreck. Sanders says her brother's example is what helped her to move on and not to hold a grudge.

"I don't have time to be mad at anybody because my brother has such a positive attitude," Sanders said.

"I understand things are rough, but the first thing you have to do is believe in Christ. You've got to have the faith," Walker said.

If anyone is still suffering from the side effects of the chlorine you maybe eligible for free help at the Grace Center. The Grace Center is located at the masonic shopping center. They offer free lung function health testing for any past mill workers.

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