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Couple celebrating 50th anniversary named as victims of Amtrak crash

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A Georgia couple celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary have been identified as two of the victims killed when an Amtrak train derailed in Montana last weekend.

Don Varnadoe and his wife Margie Varnadoe, of St. Simons Island, were aboard the Empire Builder when it went off track along a gradual curve in the rural town of Joplin on Saturday.

The pair spent months planning their highly-anticipated cross-country adventure and Don, a beloved real estate broker, frequently shared his excitement about the trip with his colleagues.

“He said, ‘This is our trip of a lifetime and we’re so looking forward to it,’” Varnadoe’s boss, Robert Kozlowski, recalled in an interview with the Associated Press.

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On Friday, a day before the fatal wreck, Don called his co-workers at Coldwell Banker Access Realty in the port city of Brunswick to give them an update on their travels.

“He had called the office and said how excited they were,” said Kozlowski. “They were in Washington, D.C., and headed west.”

Last week, an Amtrak train derailed near Joplin, Montana and killed three people.
AP

The train, carrying 141 passengers and 16 crew members, was en route from Chicago to Seattle.

Don and his wife had lived on St. Simons Island for 45 years. Margie was a retired teacher and administrator who worked at the Glynn County public school system.

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The married couple were two of three people who died in the train crash. The other victim was 28-year-old Zach Schneider, who was traveling with his wife to Portland, Oregon when the train derailed.

Investigators with the National Transportation Safety Board are looking to see what caused the crash.

Don Varnadoe and his wife Margie Varnadoe were aboard the Empire Builder when it went off track along a gradual curve in the rural town of Joplin.
Don Varnadoe and his wife Margie Varnadoe were aboard the Empire Builder when it went off track along a gradual curve in the rural town of Joplin.
AP

On Monday, investigators said the train was traveling just under the 75 mph speed limit when it derailed.

With Post wires

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