Channel 7 reporter 'international sensation' after tweeting Amtrak nightmare
[This blog post has been updated]
WJLA reporter Stephen Tschida has become a local star after tweeting about his Thursday night 10-hour Amtrak train ride from Baltimore to Philadelphia.
Yes, that's 10 hours.
"The other day he only had 35 followers - now he's an international sensation," Tschida's boss, WJLA general manager Bill Lord told The TV Column.
"BBC wants to interview him and ABC is doing a story on him for their evening news," Lord marveled.
"Train stalled again. Pitch black all around, cold air blowing on me. It's like twilight zone. Or I've died and gone 2 hell," Tschida tweeted from the train Thursday night -- and that was just a couple hours into his ordeal.
"Stephen is the funniest person in our newsroom," Lord said, while acknowledging the guy has a flair for the melodramatic. "He write very dramatic tweets all the time about whatever pops into his head. We found it entertaining, but others interpreted it to be a desperate man about ready to throw himself under the tracks," Lord marveled.
Meanwhile, WJLA is going to do a story on him for its 5 o'clock news on Friday. The plan is to have a reported piece on his tweets, then "have him do a live phone interview from the train," Lord explained.
Yes, he's getting back on a train.
And, here's Tschida's tweeted tale -- all 10-hour's worth -- in chronological order (via Twitter):
En route phili. Train broke down. Terrrible, cold, no info. Better get what can from cafe. Looks like long night ahead.
Really someone here should tell us something. Train gettting colder and colder. Hearing now about a possible rescue train. OMH?
Another train will try run threw trouble spot ( god knows when ). If makes it we will attempt. Just want OFF this train. I am freezing.
OK, getting wierd on here. People starting to talk loud. Demanding another train. But don't think another train will help.
If it gets much colder I am going to have to cuddle with the senior citizen next to me. Hey it's called SURVIVAL!
Rejoice train moving. Senior citizen off hook. Tells me heat should return. At least now I know how Dr. Zhivago felt.
Train just slammed on brakes. Afraid were not moving again 4 a long time.
Help is on the way. Whatever that means. And they have "emergency food". Whatever that is. How long r we going 2 b on here?
This really is the trip from HELL!
Oh god we r going to back up. Then head all the way back to Balimore. Amtrak says we have heat. Let me tell u my fee r numb!
Conductor says they will do something with us when we get 2 Baltimore. But he doesn't know what.
Train stopped again. So cold can't stop trembling. Going 2 try meditation. Think good thoughts. It will be over soon. Right?
Train stalled again. Pitch black all around, cold air blowing on me. It's like twilight zone. Or I've died and gone 2 hell.
Just sitting here. If somebody doesn't tell us something, I am afraid it's going 2 get ugly. Frustration is building.
OMG backing up all the way 2 baltimore. Asked what then, conuctor said "don't know". Asked about heat, he shrugged. Kinda close 2 crying.
Oh god, lights went out. Train totally dead. No one is telling us anything! Sitting in dark shivering. "Sartre"
Very wierd, everyone wispering. This is so bizarre. Because it's dark they talk in hushed tones.
Afraid they're going to back us off a bridge into cold black water. Maybe I'm paranoid, but afraid this isn't going to end well.
Why will no one tell us anything? People are cold, hungry, and frightened. I hear yelling in other cars.
People are storming the conductor. He is letting them off in Perryville. He says u get off at your own risk.
People are rushing to get off train. Torn don't know what to do. If I get off in perryville where do I go then?
1 man grabbed intercom demanded answers. Another started screaming we have 2 get home. Now total silence.
Still just sitting here. Going 2 try to fall asleep. Hope don't freeze.
Now quiet, people like zombies. Some lined up to get off. Others just blank expressions. Train still stalled.
Oh god all lights went out again. Train dead, it's like a coffin in here. But less anger and yelling. Exhaustion setting in.
Sitting here in still darkness, strange. Spanish lady keeps muttering "please please". Think she wants train to move, just move.
OMG the first glimpse of kindness. A shivering woman asked conductor 4 blankets. He offered her his jacket.
Conductor says we will go other direction now. Says we will head north. Buit doesn't know when. Confusion.
Vague promises of movement. Followed by more stagnation. When will it end? If I get 2 phili, return 2morrow. Think I'll take the bus.
Train MOVING! Spanish lady looked at me with sad eyes said "I want to go to New York". I said you are YOU ARE!
Keep praying don't stop, don't stop. Train picking up speed. It really might be over soon.
God I think I'm close to crying again. I NEVER cry. Just want out. This might be a life changer.
Another hour and I will be off this train. 9 hours of hell! I just hope it keeps going.
This whole night is like some wierd agonizing hallucination. Now they can't open doors to let people off. What is going on?
Oh god, a half hour out of phili and it stopped again. Please please! Ah it's moving, slowly but moving.
I just want to get warm and sleep. take off these frozen boots. Can't wait to step off this train, safe.
No signals, train inching along. Agony till the very end.
This train is going at a snails pace. At this rate won't get of for hours. Kafka could not have dreamed this up.
Oh god, can see phili, but train stopped again. Really it just does not end!
Oh god, close close close! Almost off this god forsaken train!
Off the train! Ten hours of hell is over. Now warmth and sleep, goodnight.
4 hours off train still can't get warm. Supposed 2 go back 2day. I don't know if I can get on train again.
Lisa de Moraes
| December 17, 2010; 3:29 PM ET
Categories: Local TV
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