Local woman dies in train crash in Spain

Michael Donahue of the Diocese of Arlington reacts to news of the death of Ana Maria Cordoba, a benefits specialist for the diocese who was killed in the Spain train crash.
July 25, 2013

Ana-Maria Cordoba was traveling from Northern Virginia to Spain with her husband and daughter to meet up with her son Santiago, who had just completed a pilgrimage to a renowned holy site. The plan was for the family to celebrate the Feast of St. James.

The family’s journey ended tragically when Cordoba was killed in the crash of a train that derailed Wednesday in the Galicia region of northwestern Spain. According to the Associated Press, at least 80 people were killed and scores were injured in the accident near Santiago de Compostela, a site of Christian pilgrimage for hundreds of years.

Cordoba worked in human resources for the Catholic Diocese of Arlington. She was traveling on the train with her husband, Philippe, and daughter Christina, said Michael J. Donohue, a spokesman for the Arlington diocese.

Cordoba was remembered at the diocese as a kind, well-liked woman. Her mother also works there.

“She was a very kind and warm woman of great faith,” Donohue said of Cordoba. “It’s just a moment of great sadness for the staff of the diocese here. We pray for her and her family.”

Diocese employees learned Thursday morning that Cordoba was among the missing, and prayers were given for her at noon Mass. Church officials were notified of her death in the afternoon and several colleagues wept. Others gathered in small groups to pray for her, Donohue said.

Christina will be a senior at Bishop O’Connell High School in Arlington, Donohue said. She and her father were listed in stable condition at a hospital in Galicia, according to the Catholic News Service.

Robert Moulthrop, a neighbor of Cordoba’s in Fairfax County, called her “a great woman of faith and a wonderful person.

“We’ll be missing her,” he said.

On the Facebook page for the diocese, officials asked parishioners to pray for Cordoba and the scores who died in the crash.

Surveillance video out of Spain shows the moment the train derailed around a curve, killing at least 78 passengers.

“On this Feast of St. James, we pray for his intercession for all of those involved in the tragic train accident in Spain,” the post says. “In particular, we ask for your prayers for Ana Maria Cordoba.”

Clarence Williams is the night police reporter for The Washington Post and has spent the better part of 13 years standing next to crime scene tape, riding in police cars or waking officials in the middle of night to gather information about breaking news in and around Washington.
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