Lexington County, SC (WLTX) - Calls made to 911 show some of the early, frantic moments as passengers and crew aboard a derailed Amtrak train tried to alert first responders to the tragedy that had just unfolded.
WLTX obtained the tapes from Lexington County Monday night.
In them, callers are trying to tell the dispatcher what's happened, and to explain the magnitude and gravity of the situation. They describe injuries to children, that there is "blood everywhere" and that nearly all of the passengers are hurt in one way or another.
In another, an employee of Amtrak tries to give an estimate on how many people were aboard.
"We have four coaches, two sleepers, one cafe car, eight with the baggage car, nine with the engine," the crew member said." "A little over one hundred passengers, sir."
The callers are apparently all from out of state, and are confused about exactly where they are. One believes she's a short distance from Savannah, while another thinks he just stopped in Charleston. The Amtrak employee can only give a railway reference, and has to rely on someone nearby to let him know he's near the town of Pine Ridge. At times, one caller appears to get frustrated.
"We were driving on the tracks and I guess we derailed or something. I guess we derailed off the track. We derailed off of that," one passenger said."How is half the train injured? Everybody is injured, sir."
"People are hurt. There's blood. I can't even walk," another passenger said.
The collision between the Amtrak train and a CSX freight train killed the Amtrak engineer and one of the conductors, and injured 116 people.
Federal investigators are in South Carolina working to determine a definitive cause of the wreck, but have zeroed in on a track shifting switch that wasn't properly aligned.That mistakenly took the Amtrak off the main rail line and off to a side track, where it struck the parked CSX locomotive.
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