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Passengers Recall Horrifying Moments After Amtrak Train Derailment

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Passengers are recalling the terrifying moments when their Amtrak train derailed in Philadelphia.

Northeast Regional Train 188 was due to arrive at Penn Station from Washington, D.C., at 10:34 p.m. Tuesday. It derailed shortly after 9 p.m., killing at least seven people, injuring dozens more and plunging  screaming passengers into darkness and chaos.

Beth Davidz of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, was heading home after spending the day of work in Philadelphia and was reading the paper when the train suddenly shuddered.

"You just felt like maybe it was going to tip, you just need to like hold your water and then suddenly you knew that the car was falling over and it was just kind of a chaos of darkness and being hit by things," Davidz told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck. "The car had actually flipped over on its side."

Passengers Recall Horrifying Moments When Amtrak Train Derailed

Davidz had to climb out of a smoke-filled car to safety.

"Somebody popped open the window at the top and we were actually able to climb out from the seats," she told CBS2's Christine Sloan.

She has bumps, bruises and a lot of soreness, but should be OK. She is headed back home after being released from the hospital, Schuck reported.

Davidz said she'll never forget the screams for help on the train.

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.

PHOTOS: Amtrak Train Derailment

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.''

An Associated Press manager, Paul Cheung, was on the train and said he was watching Netflix 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.''

Gaby Rudy, an 18-year-old from Livingston, New Jersey, was headed home from George Washington University when the derailment occurred. She said she was nearly asleep when she suddenly felt the train "fall off the track.''

The next few minutes were filled with broken glass and smoke, said Rudy, who suffered minor injuries. "They told us we had to run away from the train in case another train came,'' she said.

Another passenger, Daniel Wetrin, was among more than a dozen people taken to a nearby elementary school afterward.

"I think the fact that I walked off (the train) kind of made it even more surreal because a lot of people didn't walk off,'' he said. "I walked off as if, like, I was in a movie. There were people standing around, people with bloody faces. There were people, chairs, tables mangled about in the compartment --- power cables all buckled down as you stepped off the train.''

Former U.S. Rep. Patrick Murphy of Pennsylvania was on the train and said he helped people. He tweeted photos of firefighters helping other people in the wreckage.

"I'm blessed that I was able to go home and kiss my wife and kids. I'm blessed," Murphy said. "My dad was a cop so I think about the cops, firefighters who are heroes, they're good in my book everyday."

Jeff Kutler a business journalist coming from a conference in Washington was just trying to get home to Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

He escaped with his life.

"I gotta start from scratch," he said.

So many lives were altered in an instant.

Virginia Schultz lives in the working class community where train cars were crumpled and ripped apart like soda cans.

"Waking up and seeing this, and have the whole world news here. It was like the end of the world," she told CBS2's Maurice Dubois.

Red Cross workers like Loa Esquilin rushed in to bring comfort.

"You held their hands, you gave them hugs, they needed that?" CBS2's Dubois asked.

"They did," Esquilin said.

Wives, husbands, sons, and daughters, took the train because like so many of us they had come to trust it as a sure thing. Now, they're not so sure.

"Puts a lot of things in perspective. It feels terrible. It makes me feel really bad. It makes me feel blessed that I can walk," Kutler said.

Kayana Woods' aunt was on her way to a family member's funeral on the train when it crashed. Now Woods said Sharon Whittaker has permanent scars.

"Her back is really hurt. Her neck is really hurt," she said.

Woods rushed to Temple University Hospital to see her aunt after the crash, and stayed by her side through most of the night.

"She just was crying. She's not really talking about anything. She's just upset about work," Woods told 1010 WINS' Rebecca Granet.

Passengers Recall Horrifying Moments After Amtrak Train Derailment

Woods said her aunt is expected to be in the hospital for about a week.

Sen. Tom Carper of Delaware also was on the Amtrak train but got off in Wilmington, shortly before the derailment. He later tweeted that he was "grateful to be home safe and sound.''

The cause of the derailment is under investigation.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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