The Ghan is a passenger train service that runs between Australia’s northern and southern coasts, passing through Adelaide, Alice Springs, and Darwin on the Adelaide-Darwin rail corridor. But did you know about the American tourist who clung to the Ghan after almost being left behind?
An American tourist was nearly left behind by his transcontinental Australian train in 2009. While the temperature dropped below freezing, he clung to the outside for two hours and 124 miles in only a t-shirt and jeans.
The Death Defying Ghan Train Ride
A young American tourist survived a terrifying high-speed train ride through the Australian Outback, clinging to the side of a railway car in the freezing dark as it reached speeds of 70 miles per hour.
Chad Vance, 19, of Alaska, squeezed into a tiny stairwell on the Ghan train as it raced through the South Australian Outback after leaving Port Augusta.
It took two hours and twenty minutes for a crew member to hear his desperate cries for help and bring the train to a halt.
I was worried I wasn’t going to survive. If I’d fallen off at that speed and hit the nasty-looking rocks below, I don’t think I would have made it.Chad Vance, American Tourist
When Ghan crew member Marty Wells heard Vance’s frantic calls for help, he yanked on the train’s emergency brake handle, rescuing the tourist from a potentially fatal situation.
Chad is a very lucky guy. When we rescued him, his skin was white, and his lips were blue. We were still about three hours away from our next scheduled stop, and in that time, he could have easily died of hypothermia or lost his grip and fallen to his death.Mark Wells, Ghan Train Crew Member
He stretched his legs, like most passengers in the seated carriages, during a brief stop in Port Augusta around 5:30 PM. (Source: The BS Report)
The Story Behind the Action-Movie Like Train Ride
The university student from the North Pole, Alaska, strolled around town but lost track of time and returned to the platform just as the Ghan was leaving.
All of his belongings, including his passport, were on board. Vance had already taken the train from Sydney to Adelaide after arriving in Australia on May 17, so he was aware that the Ghan would stop just outside of town to change drivers before continuing its journey.
He decided to flee. When he arrived at the station, he frantically banged on the windows of the first-class dining carriage, but the passengers ignored him.
After five minutes, the train began slowly pulling away again, and Vance feared he’d be stranded in Port Augusta with nothing but $10, a digital camera, and the shirt on his back.
The outside temperature dropped to 47 degrees Fahrenheit as the night progressed and the train gained speed. Vance had to deal with the severe wind-chill factor while wearing only boots, jeans, and a T-shirt. A weather calculator estimated the temperature to be around 19 degrees.
Vance’s desperate calls for help were answered two hours and twenty minutes after he jumped into the stairwell.
According to Wells, the backpacker collapsed to the floor after being brought on board.
He was shaking uncontrollably for several hours and complained of numbness to the left side of his body and arms and said his face was also stinging, I’ve never seen anything like this before, and I sure hope I don’t ever see it happen again.Mark Wells, Ghan Train Crew Member
The crew gave Vance first aid and a cup of soup before being upgraded to a sleeper cabin for a hot shower and a warm night’s sleep.
Vance’s youth and conditioning from living in a cold climate aided his quick recovery. (Source: The BS Report)
Image from Mirror.Uk