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Mother, Nurse On Board Amtrak Train Shares Story After Derailment

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Tuesday night's Amtrak train derailment was a shocking ordeal for the people involved as well as the community where it occurred. Some of the passengers on board were fortunate enough to walk away from the devastating accident.

CBS 3 Eyewitness News spoke with a mother who was on board the train along with her son. The woman was also a nurse and could not help, but noticed the severity of the injuries that her fellow passengers suffered. She shared her memories from the beginning of the ordeal.

"We were just on the train and all of a sudden, it started to shake," said Joan Helfman. "We were in the front seat and this huge red suitcase just came flying at me."

"Our train was actually on its side so it pushed me on to the side of the train. It hit my chest." She added that the impact caused her to suffer what in her professional opinion was at least a few broken ribs.

When asked what was going through her mind during the derailment, she said, "That this is a nightmare and it can't be happening."

PHOTOS: Amtrak Train Derailment In Port Richmond

In the aftermath of the accident, she pointed out what she saw and also talked about the limitations she felt in terms of helping her fellow passengers.

"I saw so many head injuries and bloody faces," she said. "There was nothing I could do to help except talk to the people."

On board with Helfman was her son Max. He also tried to help out passengers after first taking care of his mother.

"I helped my mom get off," he said. "That was my first priority."

"Luckily I'm still here. I'm still walking," Max added. "I got really lucky so I figured I would do my best to help because I saw everyone. I could see the blood on people's faces."

"I did my best to try to help people out of that car because it was smoking," he explained.

He made it clear that the whole incident had not quite sunk in yet and that it was an experience that one could not even imagine happening.

"It kind of still feels like a dream, like how could this happen? You always like read about things or see things on the news like oh, a plane crashes or a train derails, but you never actually think it's going to happen to you, and it did," Max said.

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