Ex-Congressman Aboard Amtrak 188, Patrick Murphy, Tweets Out Photos Of Chaotic Scene Inside Wrecked Train
Former Pennsylvania Congressman and Iraq War veteran Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.) sent out Tweets from the site of the Amtrak Northeast Regional 188 train derailment that claimed at least six lives and injured more than 140 people on Tuesday night. Murphy, who had been traveling in the café car when the passenger train capsized off a turn shortly before 9:30 p.m., reported that he was alright and trying to help other passengers around him get out of the wreckage. Amtrak 188 was headed from Washington D.C. to New York when six passenger cars and the engine jumped the tracks on a turn when passing through Philadelphia. Officials have denied that terrorism or other intentional foul play caused the crash, which they are describing as an accident. The crash sent more than 140 of the 238 passengers and five crew members aboard to the hospital — six of who were in critical condition — and closed down rail travel on the Northeast corridor line, perhaps through the end of the week. (Update: Eight passengers have now been confirmed dead.)
“Im on @Amtrak train that just crashed. Im ok. Helping others. Pray for those injured,” Murphy Tweeted out at 9:27 p.m. on Tuesday.
Recounting the ordeal later on MSNBC, Murphy said that he had been standing in the café car when the train began to tilt. He was thrown into a window and another passenger.
“It wobbled at first and then went off the tracks,” the former representative for Pennsylvania’s eighth district said. “There were some pretty banged-up people. One guy next to me was passed out.”
Murphy didn’t suffer any serious injuries and instead helped his fellow passengers kick out a window in the car and escape.
“A lot of people panicked,” he said. “Some seemed pretty bad. One guy couldn’t move his leg at all.”
Other passengers interviewed by the local news outlets told harrowing stories of the cars flipping onto their sides, sending passengers and suitcases flying into the windows and one another.
"Immediately you could tell the train derailed," passenger Janna D'Ambrisi told CNN. "I was thrown into the girl next to me, sitting in the window seat. The train started to tip that way, to the right. And people on the other side of the train started to fall on us."
Joan Helfman, a nurse traveling on Amtrak 188 Tuesday night, knew after the crash that she had probably broken her ribs. Around her, she could see that many of her fellow passengers weren’t doing much better.
"I saw so many head injuries and bloody faces," Helfman told Philadelphia news radio station KYW. "There were a lot of fractures — arms, shoulders, all kinds of fractures."
Emergency responders reached the scene within eight or nine minutes of the derailment, Murphy said. He sent out Tweets from the scenes showing early images of emergency personnel trying to help passengers still stuck in the damaged cars.
“Thank you so much to all the first responders-there w/in minutes. Thank you, thank you, thank you @PhillyPolice @PhillyFireDept,” he wrote from his Twitter account shortly after 2 a.m. Wednesday morning.
Other photos from the scene showed passengers bleeding profusely as firemen and EMTs helped them to ambulances where they could be ferried to nearby hospitals for medical treatment.
“It is an absolute disastrous mess,” Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter told reporters Tuesday. “I have never seen anything like this in my life.”
According to The New York Times, the mangled train cars and warped pieces of metal track on the scene spoke to the force and destruction of the crash. Philadelphia Fire Department Deputy Commissioner Jesse Wilson echoed the Times’ assessment.
"I've never seen anything so devastating,” Wilson told the local NBC station. “They're in pretty bad shape. You can see that they're completely, completely derailed from the track. They've been destroyed completely. The aluminum shell has been destroyed and they've been overturned completely."
The National Transportation Safety Board said it would dispatch a team of investigators Wednesday morning to look into the incident and determine how the routine commuter train could have gone so wrong.
Murphy wasn’t the only congressional representative on the Amtrak 188 Tuesday night. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) had ridden the line as far as Wilmington before disembarking 40 miles short of the eventual crash site.
"I am grateful to be home safe and sound in Wilmington, and my heart goes out to everyone involved in the crash on @AmtrakNEC #188 tonight,” Carper Tweeted.
Images: Getty Images