CAYCE, S.C. - Passenger Eric Larkin told The Associated Press he was jolted awake by the pre-dawn crash as the Amtrak train slammed into a freight train in South Carolina.
Larkin said he felt the train start to leave the tracks as it hit a curve in the railway early Sunday.
"It was shaking, then it started jumping," Larkin said, adding that his seat came loose, slamming him into the row of seats in front of him. He was seated toward the middle of the train.
Larkin said he heard screams and crying all around him as he tried to get out. Other passengers were bleeding. His right knee throbbed from where it banged the row of seats in front of him.
Scene Photos: Amtrak Train Crashes in SC
Walking with a limp, Larkin said he was dazed and didn't know where he was when the train finally came to a complete stop.
"It's a blessing to be alive," said Larkin, of Pamlico, North Carolina, speaking outside a middle school where passengers were taken. "I thought that I was dead."
Once he got off the train, Larkin said arriving police officers told him to stop taking photos of the crumpled train and not to share any of the images he had already captured.
"I thought it was a little strange," Larkin said of the request.
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