Reporters aboard describe train derailment first hand


PHILADELPHIA (MEDIA GENERAL) – At least four journalists for the Associated Press, NBC News, and the New York Observer were on the Amtrak train that derailed in Philadelphia.

Train 188 was going from Washington, D.C. and was headed to New York when it derailed killing seven people and injuring more than 200. The National Transportation Safety Board is on scene investigating the crash.

Reports came in right away, several from journalists aboard the crashed train.

An Associated Press manager, Paul Cheung, was on the train and said he was watching a video on his laptop when “the train started to decelerate, like someone had slammed the brake.”

“Then suddenly you could see everything starting to shake,” he said. “You could see people’s stuff flying over me.”

Cheung said another passenger urged him to escape from the back of his car, which he did. He said he saw passengers trying to escape through the windows of cars tipped on their sides.

“The front of the train is really mangled,” he said. “It’s a complete wreck. The whole thing is like a pile of metal.”

Passenger Jillian Jorgensen, 27, was seated in the quiet car — the second passenger car — and said the train was going “fast enough for me to be worried” when it began a hard bank to the right. The train derailed, the lights went out and Jorgensen was thrown from her seat. She said she “flew across the train” and landed underneath some seats that she assumed had come loose from the floor.

Jorgensen, a reporter for The New York Observer who lives in Jersey City, New Jersey, said she managed to wriggle free as fellow passengers screamed. She saw one man lying still, his face covered in blood, and a woman with a broken leg. Eventually, she climbed out an emergency exit window and a firefighter helped her down a ladder to safety.

“It was terrifying and awful, and as it was happening it just did not feel like the kind of thing you could walk away from, so I feel very lucky,” Jorgensen said in an email to The Associated Press. “The scene in the car I was in was total disarray and people were clearly in a great deal of pain.”

Journalist Janelle Richards, producer for NBC Nightly News, said she called 911 first. Then, she took video during the crash and immediately posted it on Twitter.

Beth Davidz, a journalist from Brooklyn, also chronicled the crash. She said she was released from the hospital. She doesn’t have her wallet, and only has one shoe. But, she says “so grateful.”

(The Associated Press contributed to this report)

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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