It was a typical trek on Amtrak’s most lucrative line. Quiet even.
Train 188 out of D.C. had minutes earlier left Philly’s 30th Street Station and was accelerating north to Penn, in New York, when the calm went to chaos.
Janna D’Ambrisi tells CNN the train seemed to be moving “a little too fast around a curve.”
“Then there was a jolt. And immediately you could tell the train derailed,” she said.
Moments later, she heard a banging from the bathroom. A man inside was screaming.
“He was trying to unlock the door, but it was stuck,” D’Ambrisi said. The metal must have been bent.”
“It just tilted like you were going around a sharp curve, and then it just flipped all the way over,” said Mary Barcellos, of New York, who The Philadelphia Inquirer said walked away from the disaster with one shoe.
Her car wound up upside down. Next to her, a woman had a broken leg.
“I’m very lucky,” Barcellos said.
PHONES, LAPTOPS, EVERYTHING FLYING
Jeremy Wladis, 51, saw “phones, laptops, everything flying,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer .
“There were women launched up in the luggage rack,” he said. “I don’t even know how they got there.”
Daniel Wetrin, 37 of New York, said what followed in the next two seconds, “was chaos.”
Pictures from ex-Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Delaware) tweeted from inside his overturned rail car caught some of that chaos, showing dazed and bloodied passengers — and later, first responders answering the call.
“It went to my right, then to my left. Everyone who was on the left side of the car, where I was sitting, just got thrown completely over to the right side,” he told The Inquirer.
“A lot of people panicked,” he said.
“Some seemed pretty bad. One guy couldn’t move his leg at all.” Another out cold.,
“IT CAN’T BE HAPPENING.”
And then, in the time between the derailment, and the arrival of rescue teams, passengers started helping each other and evacuating.
In one video posted on social media video, you hear the efforts.
“Keep crawling, OK?” one man tells another
“Where am I crawling to?” he asks.
“Crawl forward, sir,” another man says.
“I saw so many head injuries and bloody faces,” Joan Elfman, a nurse on the train told local CBS, KYW . “There were a lot of fractures — arms, shoulders, all kinds of fractures.”
All that was going through her mind, as she started helping others — despite the pain in her ribs: “This is a nightmaren and it can’t be happening.”
But it did — and she and other survivors are counting their blessings.