U.S. Backpacker Takes The Ride Of His Life

College student crouches in train's exterior stairwell on high-speed ride through Australia's Outback after missing boarding

He wanted adventure, and he got it.

U.S. backpacker Chad Vance dilly-dallied a bit too long during a brief train stop in the Australian Outback, and when he looked up, the doors had closed and the train was starting to rumble away. Vance made a desperate leap and scambled aboard, then spent the next two-and-a-half hours shivering in a small exterior stairwell. Oh, and before things got too rough, he managed to record it.

"I was worried I wasn't going to survive," the 19-year-old college student told The Advertiser.  "If I'd fallen off at that speed and hit the nasty-looking rocks below, I don't think I would have made it."

The train reached speeds of nearly 70mph making the 50-degree air feel more like 20 degrees.

After 120 miles of crouching and calling for help, Vance got the attention of crew member Marty Wells, who pulled the emergency brake. When he found Vance and brought him inside, the backpacker was shaking uncontrollably, Wells said.

"His skin was white and his lips were blue," Wells said, adding that the stowaway was lucky to be alive after the incident last month.

"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 if he hadn't been rescued."

The Alaska native might have avoided his 120-mile night ride if the passengers seated in the first class section responded to his pleas for help. During a brief conductor switch, the train stopped and Vance pounded on the windows of the train to no avail.

"They probably thought I was some crazy kid," he said.

After his rescue, the crew bumped him to a sleeper cabin and fed him hot soup.

The next day, reunited with his passport, luggage and train ticket, he continued through his touring itinerary, everything according to schedule.

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