The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell, Transcript 05/12/15
JANELLE RICHARDS, PRODUCER, NBC NIGHTLY NEWS: Or I guess press one of
those – to get off the train. So the people that could get up, started
getting up out of their seats walking toward whatever exit they could find.
And someone was able to push or I guess press one of those doors, so it
slid open just enough to start getting people off of the train.
RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC: Janelle, you did see people who were injured, do you
expect that there will be any fatalities from this crash? Was the injuries
that you saw that serious?
RICHARDS: That I`m not sure. The people that I saw looked like they were
OK, just very badly injured. But in terms of fatalities, I`m not sure.
MADDOW: Janelle Richards, nightly news producer who was on that train
tonight, please stay in touch with us over the course of the night, we`re
going to stay on this story as we`re just learning about it, Janelle, thank
you for phoning in.
RICHARDS: Thank you, bye –
MADDOW: That does it for us for right now, but Lawrence O`Donnell has more
on this breaking story, good evening Lawrence.
LAWRENCE O`DONNELL, HOST, THE LAST WORD: Thanks Rachel. We`re going –
MADDOW: Yes –
O`DONNELL: – to continue this breaking news coverage right now. An
Amtrak train from New York to Washington D.C. has derailed not far from
It was an Amtrak Regional 188 and was supposed to arrive in New York City
about 10:30. So, it was going from Washington – to clarify, it was going
from Washington to New York City.
The crash happened about half an hour ago, a witness inside the train says
she saw people fly into the air and a lot of smoke. We`re told passengers
were injured and some were bleeding.
We`re joined now by former Pennsylvania Congressman Patrick Murphy who was
on that train. Patrick, where are you now? I guess we don`t have Patrick.
Control room, do we have Patrick Murphy? I have no – I have no sound at
all here. I`m covering this here in – yes, I`m covering this here in
The control room in New York had Patrick Murphy, we don`t have Patrick
Murphy now. You`re seeing live images from the scene near Philadelphia
where this crash occurred tonight.
There`s been reports of injuries, eyewitness reports of injuries, but no
official reporting on that just yet and no word yet on what speed – on
what speed the train was traveling at.
You can see what appears to be an ambulance in position there, we have very
little information about this at this point.
We do know that this is the – this is not the highest speed train, the
Acela train which runs on that same route and generally achieves higher
speeds than the regional train.
But the regional train can reach some pretty high speeds. I think we do
now have a connection to Patrick Murphy, Patrick, can you hear me?
PATRICK MURPHY, FORMER UNITED STATES REPRESENTATIVE: Hey, Lawrence, I can
hear you, great.
O`DONNELL: So Patrick, just about – how fast was the train going do you
think when this crash occurred?
MURPHY: I`d say it was probably going at least 60, 70 miles an hour, it
was going pretty fine, we were going at a healthy clip from the
Philadelphia stop off the train.
We were coming from Washington up toward New York when we were going fine
and all of a sudden it went off the rails, and I was in one of the cafe
cars and I was at the bench, we flipped over to – you know, I think, next
thing I know I was at the other side of the – of the car upside down.
O`DONNELL: So Patrick, in the cafe car, were you standing or were you
sitting when this happened?
MURPHY: I was sitting in the bench and then I – and then when it crashed,
obviously it wobbled at first and then it went off the tracks and then we
went off to the side and it start to – it buckled me, our car went all the
way to the side.
And there were some pretty banged-up people, you know, lots of blood and
lots of – one guy next to me was passed out.
We had to get him back to attention and we kicked out the top window and
got people off the – out of cafe car.
O`DONNELL: So Patrick, did you – did you help carry people off and lead
people off the train?
MURPHY: Yes, everyone, we got everybody off, there were a couple of people
injured where they couldn`t move, so I stayed with them until a few police
department and paramedics were here.
They had to climb through and render first aid.
O`DONNELL: And Patrick, how long did it take by your estimate from the
time of the crash to where you saw your first paramedics arriving?
MURPHY: Within minutes. I would say within eight-nine minutes. We were
just trying to – I was trying to maintain calm, get the people that were
freaking out, get them out of the – of the train, although we had to push
most out of the – of the emergency window.
And then the other people we just stabilized and let them know it was going
to be OK, you know, that things were under control.
O`DONNELL: So Patrick, in the cafe car that you were in, when everything
settled, was that car over on its side?
MURPHY: Yes, I was – I was upside down on top of – on others. I mean,
the tables came out and everything.
So, I was helping – I was getting off of the guy that I landed on top of
and getting everybody set to make sure – you know, we were worried, we
didn`t know exactly if we were, you know, near somewhere where we could
So I had to get my bearings and make sure we were OK, stable for this – we
let people out, but there was obviously – there were 200 people on this
Besides that, Senator Carper was actually the person that I would have
landed on, got off the train in Delaware, went out, Delaware, Wilmington,
Delaware stop and the person who was not going to – find something on that
O`DONNELL: So Patrick, just to repeat what you just said, you saw Senator
Carper of Delaware on that train that was involved in this crash?
MURPHY: Yes, prior to the crash, yes, he`d just gotten off earlier –
O`DONNELL: He – oh, he –
MURPHY: So –
O`DONNELL: Had just – he had just gotten off?
MURPHY: He`d just gotten off, he`s OK, yes, he`d just gotten –
O`DONNELL: So –
MURPHY: Back off –
O`DONNELL: He got off –
MURPHY: Of where –
O`DONNELL: In –
MURPHY: Right –
O`DONNELL: Wilmington probably?
MURPHY: Yes, he got off in Wilmington, yes sir, and then we stopped and
put off here, and then we were between – put off in train when we crashed
here in northeast Philadelphia.
But there was – there was a police with the motorbikes that came out and
came out to the – you know, kind of a wooded little area – clear the area
and they were out here as well as Philadelphia Fire Department personnel
rendering first aid and obviously doing – treating us(ph) to make sure –
you know, taking care of the people who were hurt the most.
O`DONNELL: Patrick, would you say that this is in a northern Philadelphia
suburb where this occurred?
MURPHY: Yes, it was in the city limits at the outermost part of
Philadelphia, the northern most part of Philadelphia, northeast
Philadelphia where a lot of these cops and firefighters lived.
So, I knew about half these police officers and firefighters that were on
the scene, so I was helping them at first and then once I was done, I was
the last one to leave the cafe car.
I had a body count when it first – the men know(ph), 11 of us and then we
got everyone out except the one person they needed to bring in a stretcher
O`DONNELL: And Patrick, in that area at the northeast – in northeast
Philadelphia, usually when you`re in that kind of urban environment on the
northeast regional trains that are moving, by that time when they`re –
were they that – when they were that far out of the station in either
Boston or Providence or Philadelphia?
They`re heading up toward their maximum speed at that point. It sounds
like this train was getting close to its maximum speed.
MURPHY: Exactly, yes. They were – they were making up time, we were a
little bit late making – getting out of the Washington station, only about
ten minutes or so.
But this wasn`t a bend or anything, that`s why it was surprising. And I
don`t expect they would – how they got derailed, but it got real wobbly
and then I mean, it happened so fast.
So, and you know, as you know in these situations, there were a lot of
people that were freaking out right away and crying, but we tried to –
everyone now hold it together, just hold it together.
O`DONNELL: And Patrick, what is the area surrounding the track-like there
– you – as far as you can tell, the train was on a straightaway, how
protected is that track from the neighborhood?
How close to the track is housing in that area?
MURPHY: Yes, there`s not really – it`s not really housing in the area.
There is – it`s more like factories, old buildings, kind of a bending for
buildings, windows boarded up, et cetera.
And some overgrowth of the trees and weeds, et cetera. So that`s why you
saw some of the first people on the scene were put up – the police
officers on actually motorbikes that you would take out in the backwoods.
Yes, good, but obviously now, you`re seeing more personnel on the scene,
there is people still leaving the train site and now people seen carried
out, you know, on stretchers or being attended on the stretchers right now.
O`DONNELL: Patrick, you mentioned that it`s a neighborhood, it`s an area
where many Philadelphia police and firefighters live. It`s one of their
Are you saying that a lot of them showed up, they`re off duty, just coming
straight from their homes hearing this crash?
MURPHY: Yes, those – I mean, I know the one put out here, highway patrol
officer that – part of them was my cousin who is here, he heard about it
and rushed – closer uniform personnel, but the highway patrol officers
because you could tell by their high boots.
And I know the fire captain – because I know this story(ph) guy, he was
there and I was helping him evacuate people from the two cafe cars.
And forgive me, it`s tough to know the – of the body count and who was in
need of medical attention right away.
O`DONNELL: Patrick Murphy, as you know, most Americans don`t live in areas
where these trains – these kinds of Amtrak train travel is common.
And so it may not be completely common knowledge in the country that these
trains don`t have seat belts.
So in a situation like this when you report basically flying bodies through
the train car, and that`s inevitable in a high speed, a high impact like
MURPHY: Yes, and so we`re just sitting there at a little table on a little
bench, that sits two to a bench, two – you know, four per bench with one
on each side of the train.
And luckily, you know, we do stuff for a lot of people coming from
Washington and Baltimore and Wilmington, then in Philadelphia.
So – but when we got out here, you know, going probably 57 miles an hour
which seemed normal. I didn`t feel like it was a normal speed.
It`s – all of a sudden, you heard a bang or something, but then the train
got wobbly and, you know, I knew right away something bad had happened.
I just grabbed on the table as hard as I could. But the force of the –
the force of the train, you know, I just went flying across the other side
– to the other side of the train where we were upside down.
And the person that was there and then just thought that I help him, you
know, and help the guy next to me who was unconscious.
So I was helping – in the face, try to get him up, he got – he came to
and we got him off to one – luckily, the window, took all those emergency
It was obviously debris, dust and everything in – we did fight, speedily
took – put on my hand – standing halfway on the other seats, so – and
then just pushed him up through the window and then started helping out the
people to get through the window.
And then there was still about 11 people in the two cafe cars remaining
that couldn`t get out. They were too banged up, and I just reserved as –
and Mrs. Brian who was the Amtrak worker who was there standing out the
door and helping.
Just making sure that they were just keeping calm and – I`m sorry I`m out
of breath, as matter of fact, you know.
O`DONNELL: I understand, I just – I want to explain to our audience that
you`re listening to former Congressman Patrick Murphy who was on this
Amtrak train when it was moving at high speed north of Philadelphia having
just stopped at the station in Philadelphia on its way to New York City.
And some kind of derailment impact occurred, there have been – Amtrak has
confirmed that they were approximately 240 passengers on board, eight to
ten cars have derailed.
Multiple injuries, that`s as much detail as we have at this point about
what actually happened there. We`ve been provided with much more detail,
much more of a feel for what it was like to be inside that car by former
Congressman Patrick Murphy.
And Patrick, you`re still with us by phone?
MURPHY: Yes, I`m still here, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: I just wanted to ask you, because of your military training, as
I listen to you, as a combat veteran in Iraq and with your training, it
makes me realize that people in your car that you were in were lucky that
you were in it.
Since you`re – of all the people I know who could be traveling on that
train, the most readily equipped and trained with how to deal with
something like this.
Did you happen to see others on that train who you recognized had that kind
of ability, passengers on the train who knew what to do after this
MURPHY: Yes, I mean, you see the kind of bad people announced here,
Lawrence, I mean, there was people who were – some executives in the cafe
car that were getting – didn`t care about anyone else, they were just
getting out of the train at that window.
So, you know, but there were others that were really pushing(ph) that to
make sure that the first that were locked in the right were OK. So, you
know, I would say that the – and I don`t judge anyone for wanting to get
out of the train.
But, you know, if you don`t want to ever leave anyone behind that might
have been stuck in – for people to breathe or something.
So we`re just lucky that the 11 people that remained back, you know, were
not fatal and just had injuries.
Where they just needed – before the stretcher, they can`t move, one
couldn`t move his leg. There is – I would say lots of blood everywhere,
but, you know, God was smiling down on us, I have no doubt about it.
O`DONNELL: Patrick, on – we – on our camera now has just picked up some
people being taken to ambulances.
There is one person who – a police officer is – the person is able to
walk, and so the police officer is helping that person along.
And so we`ve been seeing on the screen as you`ve been speaking, a lot of
what is happening there, the light is difficult, so some of the shots are
clearly illuminated and some of them aren`t.
We`re just trying to – I`m leaving at the – I have no better visual angle
on this than the audience does, and so I haven`t been commenting very much
on what`s been on their screens because they can see it as well as I can.
And there`s been a huge response there, several ambulances, it`s not
possible to count them all from the shots that we have here.
And Patrick Murphy, in northeast Philadelphia, what hospitals would they
then – would these ambulances be heading toward now?
MURPHY: Yes, probably the nearest one from the area is Harriet
Purcell(ph), it`s a northeast Philadelphia for night road, we`re here in
northeast Phil, there`s a – there`s a Wal-Mart – I`m sorry, there`s a
Wawa convenience store about 600 meters from the track.
And then the cafe car that I was in, if you – if you can see that, I know
there`s – a helicopter is up in the sky, but we were the ones that were –
that like got jack-knifed, meaning that we were not on the track for – to
So, I`m standing here about 30 feet away from the track still, as there`s
still bodies up on a stretcher – put on a stretcher being carried out by
Police officers holding – walking out with a stretcher in this, you know,
uneven pavement with live wires still, you know, by the track, chance to
maybe redeem the situation.
O`DONNELL: Patrick Murphy, just invaluable information from you on this
train crash, please try to catch your breath and stay with us.
I`d love to be able to come back to you on this. We`re joined now by
Janelle Richards, a producer for “Nbc Nightly News” who was also on that
train when it derailed.
Janelle, where are you now?
RICHARDS: I am standing right near where the ambulances and the police
cars are. So firefighters, police officers are attending to people and
helping them get into the ambulance.
O`DONNELL: And where were you on the train when this happened?
RICHARDS: I was in the back of the train, so in that last car. And that`s
– you know, we were just – next thing you know, there`s a loud crash or
you kind of fly up a little bit and you`re jerking back and forth and then
it`s all over.
And I was in complete shock. I think most people that were, and then once
I realized what had happened and smoke started to fill the train car.
My first thought and everybody`s first thought I`m guessing was, how do we
get off of this car, and that was the first thing that I heard people
asking out loud, how do we get off? How do we get off of the car?
So the people that were able to get up, stood up and walked to try to find
O`DONNELL: Janelle, would you say the car you were on, that last car on
the train, was that half full? Was that mostly full?
RICHARDS: I would say that it was mostly full, from what I can remember.
You know, on these trains, people are constantly getting off and on at each
So when I first got on the train in Washington D.C., it was full. By the
time we got to Philly, it`s definitely possible, of course, that people
could have gotten off by the time that we actually crashed or derailed.
O`DONNELL: Yes, Philadelphia is normally the stop where more people get
off than any other between Washington and New York. But was it your sense,
Janelle, that this was a front-end impact on the train?
I know it`s very hard to tell that.
RICHARDS: It is very hard to tell that, but yes, I would – I would
actually think so. When I – when I looked over to my left, there was a
woman in the aisle with blood coming down her face.
But I also remember a lot of people – or some people standing up. So it
seemed like even though people were shocked, they were not badly injured.
O`DONNELL: Yes, so if it – if it was a front-end impact, the last car was
the best place to be in this situation. But even as the best place to be,
you saw injuries in that car.
Would you say it was a minority –
RICHARDS: Absolutely, yes –
O`DONNELL: Of the people in the car who were injured?
RICHARDS: Yes, I would say the minority of people, yes.
O`DONNELL: And what did you have to do to get out? Did your car flip over
the way Patrick Murphy`s did?
RICHARDS: No, my car did not flip over, it was standing up. I walked to
the back of it where I remember that there was an exit and there were a
couple of people in front of me.
And so a gentleman had figured out how to open that door. And he – it
didn`t open all the way, but he got it open enough so that we could climb
And he stood there and helped us – helped us through that little opening.
And then we were just standing by the trees and then – and what kind of
looked like the forest.
There was a hill with gravel and rocks and – the other thing that people
kept screaming once we were off the train was watch out for the wires,
watch out for the wires.
Is the train car going to tip over? Are these huge electrical poles going
to collapse in? So everybody was moving as far away from that train as they
could as more and more people were filing out.
O`DONNELL: And as you were leaving the train, pretty much all of the
luggage on an Amtrak train is carry-on luggage.
Were people in your car, the last car taking the time to grab all of their
stuff with them or were people rushing off leaving some of their things on
RICHARDS: I`d say it was a mixture of both. Because the people that I was
near their bags, like my purse was right in between my feet, so I was able
to pick up my bag and then walk off.
And I saw another guy with a huge duffel bag that he must have had maybe
very closely to him and he just kind of put it diagonally across his body
and walked off.
But my guess would be that people definitely wanted to get off of that
train and leave their stuff there, but some were able to grab it.
O`DONNELL: And Janelle, once you were off the train and then on to the
track, what – how much of a train track was there? Was it – was it just a
single train track?
Were there two train tracks there or multiple train tracks at that spot?
RICHARDS: It – I`d have to – I don`t remember. It definitely looked
like there was – there was more than one train track, but I`m not sure.
I remember someone – it must have been someone that worked for Amtrak
saying don`t stay near the tracks, don`t stay near the tracks in case
another train could be coming.
So it seemed like that was a thought that was like extremely scary. So
again, people and myself just got, you know, as far back as we could.
O`DONNELL: And where did you go from there? Is this a section – a lot of
the Amtrak route is fenced in all the way, especially in those urban and
suburban environments –
RICHARD: Right, I just stood back in the gravel and in the forest and just
– and just waited. I started to see in the – you know, up in the sky
like obviously like helicopters and I started to hear sirens.
So, I knew that responders were on their way, so I just stood there and
waited. Once they got there, you could see the flashlights in the distance
which seemed like dozens of them just flashing towards the train and
towards the woods.
So as we waited – as you mentioned, we couldn`t see it, but there was a
sense. And so they started to drill or kind of break that fence down so
that we could walk back here to the street.
O`DONNELL: NTSB is reporting that they are currently gathering information
about tonight`s Amtrak derailment. NTSB investigates these kinds of
derailments just as they investigate airplane crashes.
We`ve been getting the inside experience of being on one of the cars in
that train from Janelle Richards, she is a producer at “Nbc Nightly News”,
she was on the train leaving Washington D.C. tonight on its way to New
Janelle, what time did the train leave Washington?
RICHARDS: The train was supposed to leave Washington at 7:10, we were
delayed, but we ended up leaving shortly after that. Because I remember
looking at my phone thinking, oh, we`re not as delayed as I thought we
So, if I had to guess, I`d say we may be left around 7:20, 7:25, maybe even
before that. But we were supposed to arrive in New York at 10:30 or so –
10:34, I think.
And I – and now, already so quickly blurring together, but this
derailment, as you know, probably happened in the 9:00 hour, around 9:15,
maybe before, maybe after.
O`DONNELL: There may be some family and friends gathered in Penn Station
in New York City right now who did not have access to news about this,
waiting for passengers to arrive any minute now at Penn Station.
That train obviously, Amtrak will have to be informing those people at Penn
Station. I`m sure there`s been some method used for that by now.
Janelle Richards, we have images up on the screen of some of what`s going
on down there and this clearly, there was one shot here of a derailed car
that`s lying on its side.
The – can – have you – were you able to see when you were standing
outside the train, how quickly medical technicians were able to respond to
the scene and help the most injured people?
RICHARDS: You know, I know in these situations just from what I`ve
reported in the past, it always feels longer than it actually is. So I`m
really not sure.
It felt like it took a while, but you know, they ended up getting here, I`m
sure, you know, very quickly, maybe 10 minutes, maybe less or more.
O`DONNELL: And what about the passengers who were OK, who have not been
injured. Are they all gathered somewhere there in the street waiting for
RICHARDS: Yes –
O`DONNELL: To somewhere –
RICHARDS: Everybody is gathered on the sidewalk watching – watching
people get into the ambulances now.
O`DONNELL: But has anyone communicated with the passengers who were
uninjured about here is how we`re going to transport you from here to
somewhere else, whether that`d be New York or back to Philadelphia, to
What`s going to happen to all of –
RICHARDS: Not that I –
O`DONNELL: Those Amtrak passengers?
RICHARDS: Haven`t heard anything – yes – no, I haven`t heard anything
about that yet. But that is the first question I`m going to ask when I`m -
- when I`m off with you for sure.
O`DONNELL: The – there – and so there could be – if there`s 200-plus
passengers on that train, there may well be a 100 people standing there.
Well, can you estimate how many people you see standing there where the
passengers are standing who seem OK?
RICHARDS: A hundred seems about right. The problem now is that people in
the neighborhood are also standing out here, so it`s very tough to tell who
was on the train.
I mean, some people have – you know, like soot on their faces and blood on
their clothes and that`s easy to tell, but otherwise, it`s a little tough
at this point to decipher between who was a passenger and who was just a
part of the neighborhood.
O`DONNELL: Do we still have Patrick Murphy with us?
MURPHY: Yes, Lawrence, I`m still here.
O`DONNELL: Great, Patrick –
MURPHY: Good –
O`DONNELL: Janelle, why don`t you – why – it`d be a good idea if you can
see if someone from Amtrak can find out for us what their plans are for the
passengers who are left stranded there.
And we have a shot here, what the control room is telling me is a train
bent in half – I can`t see it from the monitor that I`m using here. But
if you have a giant screen at home and you can illuminate it, you might be
able to see it.
Patrick, do you have any – have you heard anything from anyone there about
what`s going to happen to the passengers who are now stranded in the middle
of their trips waiting for transportation toward New York and north of New
MURPHY: No, I`m still here, Lawrence, really on-site, just right off the
track with some police and fire personnel still watching people come out,
being carried out on stretchers.
They were obviously injured and people being – still walked off that –
can`t walk off by themselves at this moment. So, I`m not – I`m still
close to that – to that site itself.
O`DONNELL: Patrick Murphy, this crash is now about an hour old and we
still have injured people inside the train who have not yet been removed?
MURPHY: Well, there`s two sites – one right outside the train where
people were – that couldn`t walk but they got them off the train.
And then, right where, I believe, where probably Janelle is where it`s a
mid-area and a safe area. I`m here by the – about 30, 50 meters away from
the train tracks with some firefighters.
They confirmed with me that there`s 211 passengers that were on our train.
O`DONNELL: I`m sorry, Patrick, let me stop you there. Could you give the
– 211 passengers?
MURPHY: That`s what I was told by one of the firefighters, yes.
MURPHY: And confirmed over the radio. I got no reports on how many
casualties and, hopefully, no fatalities. But I would defer to the source
that you`re getting because I haven`t heard from my end here.
O`DONNELL: Well, you know, Amtrak put out a statement, indicating that
there were approximately 240 passengers on board. That was earlier.
But, as we`ve talked about before, Philadelphia is the biggest single
discharge of passengers on that route between Washington and New York.
And so, what the number you have, sounds to me, likely to be a more
accurate accounting of who was left on that train after Philadelphia, which
would take more than a few minutes for Amtrak to figure out, with all the
ticket information that they have, the electronic ticket information, and
all of that, that`s on these trains.
And the firefighters would, of course, need that number, 211. The rescue
workers would need to know the total number of passengers, so they could
account for everyone who was on that train.
Patrick, what is your – what is your sense of – now, of how many
reinforcements are on the way. Have you seen this group of firefighters
and police kind of constantly expanding, or do we have, basically, a full
MURPHY: No, definitely expanding. You know, they`re still bringing in
some other equipment, some more stretchers onto the site, and they`re also
bringing in some Jaws of Life over, as well.
There is already – I actually saw one Jaws of Life. I don`t know if it
was utilized but, you know, that`s – and I don`t know what that`s for.
There`s people stuck in the train, so I`m assuming that.
But I`m off – I`m off the site now, about 50 meters away from the back of
the train – right now.
O`DONNELL: Patrick, I want to go back to that moment where this crash
occurred, where you were in the dining car, sitting at one of those tables.
Of course, no seatbelts anywhere on an Amtrak train.
And the dining car being an even looser place to sit, as it were, the
train, that train, that regional train at 60, 70 miles an hour, does a
certain amount of rocking. It`s not just a smooth roll.
And there`s some rocking a little bit, back and forth. You get used to it,
you internalize it, as the train is moving along, at what point did you
realize, “What I`m feeling here isn`t right.”
MURPHY: Well, I was sitting there when I thought a certain jerkiness that
I – you know, I thought it was going about 60 to 80 miles per an hour.
But I saw some jerkiness followed by some rocking, not part of the rocking,
but some back and forth, like where we`re going back, almost tipping over
to the left, almost tipping over to the right, back to left and then, the
next time, to the right.
Then that`s when our car – you know, seeing it so fast, I was holding on
to the table for dear life. And then I – you know, because of the force,
I just got thrown to the other side of that – at first, into the window,
and my shoulder hit the guy who was there.
So, you know, it got dark and it was incredibly dusty. And, you know, I
got banged up but I was OK.
And, you know, taking stock of everything. Literally, people were crying
at people who were screaming. And I just jumped off and pulled myself up
to the other bench so I could stand up and give assessment.
I saw that we were on our side. And then I just – I noticed – I didn`t
want to – I didn`t want to go by the ground, so I wanted to go above the
And I pushed that out and then just to make sure I could look – lifted
myself above and take a look out, and saw that we were, you know, on the
top of the train, that it looked OK there, probably evacuate.
And there was people who were flipping out to evacuate. And we couldn`t
get out through our doors or anything because we were on our side.
And I just started helping people, told people to calm down, told people
one at a time. And then they started helping them get stuff over and then
just got an assessment and a body count.
And there`s a few dozen people that remained. And then, like you I said,
it felt like a while. But I could tell you that it was only about maybe
eight and nine minutes.
And then, we saw the first person. And it was a Philadelphia Highway
Patrol officer with the high boots, who was there, and followed by one of
the fire captains, you know, who knew me.
He said, “Congressman, are you OK.” I said, “I`m OK. We`ve got – you see
this guy over here and this guy over there, can`t move.
You know, I saw that they really needed a medical treatment. I don`t see a
lot of blood and everyone, you know, pretty shaken up. But, everyone in
our two cars.
I actually went to the other car, going to make sure that I assess the
situation. I went in my cafe car. It was OK.
But the next one over, however, that was where the one guy who was really
beat-up, so I made my way over there. You know, banged up and bleeding and
he couldn`t move his legs and he couldn`t – he was in not good shape.
So, I don`t know if things are going to be OK. I don`t know that there`s
going to be personnel here any second. I told the one guy to sit with him
and hold his hand.
And I went back to check up on the Amtrak woman behind the cafe car to make
sure she was OK. And we started getting ice to people – on their heads
and some other things.
O`DONNELL: You`ve been listening to Congressman Patrick Murphy`s
extraordinary report from inside Amtrak Train Number 188 which derailed
tonight in Northeast Philadelphia just over an hour ago.
Patrick, as a combat veteran, you have a higher tolerance for being banged
around like this. Are you sure that you`re OK.
I mean, did you – were you cut in any way or bleeding at all.
MURPHY: Yes. I`m bleeding in my leg and hand and stuff, my wrist. But
I`m fine. I`m the lucky one, so – and once I got my bearing and
everything was settled, I said, “We`ll just wait for the cops.”
I took a couple quick pictures I put up on my Twitter handle and just fill
that. And then I texted my wife to let her know I was OK.
But, you know, there was a – you know, moment where we were just waiting
for the first responders to come. But if you`re – you know, within
minutes, you hear sirens.
But for them to get to our car where they might be a little banged up than
most – you know, it worked out OK, Lawrence. At least, in my two cars,
it`s going to survive.
O`DONNELL: Patrick, do you think you`re going to need stitches at all or
maybe something needs to be X-rayed.
MURPHY: I think I just need a drink, to be honest with you, Lawrence.
Well, it`s going to be a while. The cafe car tipped over, so –
O`DONNELL: Patrick, please stay with us. We`re going to try to – we`ll
be coming back to you.
I want to get to Milissa Rehberger, who has been following what`s unfolding
on Twitter, including what Amtrak has been informing people about on
Twitter, and how people are trying to find their loved ones who might be
involved in this crash, on Twitter. Milissa.
MILISSA REHBERGER, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Lawrence. Yes, we are. We`re
seeking information through Twitter and we don`t have a lot just yet.
We have seen a release from Amtrak itself. But it says only this right now
“We are aware of the derailment of Northeast Regional Train 188 north of
Philadelphia. And we`ll provide updates as they become available.”
That is it on Twitter from Amtrak so far. But, as you can imagine, people
are tweeting what they think and what they wish. So far, we`ve only got a
But, here, Lawrence, is an idea of what we`re seeing so far – we`re seeing
lots of prayers. People like Kajan Clowns saying, “Prayers to your
Others saying, “We`re praying that there are not fatalities in this
Others are seeking information. At least, two people on here are saying
that they have relatives on the train. Michael Pappas says, “Amtrak,
relative was on train. Need direction on what to do. Please advise
passengers and relatives A.S.A.P.”
I will say that my producer, Laura, and myself, we`ve been both been
looking for information from Amtrak on a number or anything that friends
and relatives can use to try to reach Amtrak for the latest information.
So far, we have not been able to find anything on that. Others are seeking
other kind of information. Taylor Ulton says, “Amtrak, think any trains
will be leaving New York tonight, or should passengers make other
arrangements to Philly.”
So, we have prayers, Lawrence. We have relatives who are worried,
wondering how to reach Amtrak and their relatives for any information.
And we also have travelers out there who, in a good-natured way, at least
so far on Twitter, are wondering what to do with their plans.
Lawrence, you also said the NTSB did release a statement they have. They
said they are aware of this derailment, that they are in an information-
At this point, as you pointed out earlier, Lawrence, they go to the scene
of plane crashes and train derailments, and we have just simply not heard
what their plan is for this one yet.
O`DONNELL: We have a new report from the scene, saying that an on-scene
commander has just provided an update by radio. And he says that rescuers
are still getting into the train cars – rescuers still going inside the
Meaning, they believe there are still passengers inside the train cars that
have not yet been rescued. Philadelphia has an emergency response
frequency for the medics alerting hospitals that they are coming with
Ambulance drivers are alerting hospitals by radio of passengers with
injuries consisting of lacerations, neck injuries and limb injuries. These
injuries include fractures to the lower and upper extremities.
I want to go back to Patrick Murphy if we still have him. Patrick, can you
hear me. Patrick Murphy, can you hear me.
MURPHY: Yes, I can hear you, Lawrence. And I can confirm that there are
still – stretchers still going on to the site. Fire personnel are still
bringing stretchers onto the site.
So, obviously, not everybody one has been evacuated off the immediate site,
right off the railroad tracks here. About 150 meters away from me is
where the civilians have been taken.
But we`re here throughout the railroad tracks, and there are still
stretchers being moved by fire personnel to, it looks like, evacuate other
O`DONNELL: Patrick, the extraordinary description you gave us of what it
was like to be in that cafe car while it was rolling over, flying off the
And given that there are no seatbelts on Amtrak trains, one of the things
that I wasn`t picturing which, I now realize, is part of this, is when
you`re thrown in an Amtrak train without a seatbelt, it`s not just the wall
you`re hitting or the seat in front of you.
You`re talking about bodies being thrown into other bodies.
MURPHY: Yes. And that`s why, you know, while I was still on the other
side of the car, that`s exactly where Senator Carper was. Luckily, he just
But someone that took his seat – yes, I fell partially into him. I was
literally on the – I was backwards, on the top of my head and, you know,
kind of – you know, it was a blur.
So, there was just a lot of dust and everything else. And, obviously, a
lot of people who were – checked all my body parts and I was OK.
I mean, you know, just getting up and trying to make sure everything is OK
and then just telling everybody – everyone in that cafe cart had blood on
them, from their own head, from other people, from different place.
But everyone got really banged up. So, I was just making sure that those
who were banged up, that just put pressure on the wound to make sure they
didn`t lose so much blood.
O`DONNELL: We`ve learned from Patrick Murphy`s stunning eyewitness account
of the experience of being in that cafe car and being on that train. We
learned live here on the air from Patrick that Senator Tom Carper of
Delaware was on that train, and that he had disembarked, of course, in
Wilmington, Delaware before this crash.
And just six – about six minutes ago, Senator Carper tweeted, “I am
grateful to be home safe and sound in Wilmington. And my heart goes out to
everyone involved in the crash on Amtrak 188 tonight.”
We`re joined now by NBC News Transportation Producer. The control room
hasn`t given me a name. Who are we – Jay Blackman is joining us. Jay,
what can you tell us about this situation.
JAY BLACKMAN, NBC NEWS TRANSPORTATION PRODUCER: Lawrence, I can tell you
from speaking to several federal officials that there`s going to be a large
The Federal Railroad Administration, which has oversight over this will –
is already in the process of sending a team of investigators. And the
National Transportation Safety Board is in the process of gathering data
and information and will likely make a decision, whether or not they
will send a seem of investigators.
Judging by the pictures that we can see in your air and the high number of
injuries, I`d be surprised if they didn`t send a team to investigate this.
These are heavily-traveled rails by both state railroads and Amtrak
passenger trains. This will do a job tomorrow on the northeast car both to
D.C. and to New York. So, anybody who is traveling by train tomorrow can
expect a very hefty delay.
O`DONNELL: And, Jay, can we – has someone checked the schedule on 188.
Was it going to proceed on to Boston from New York. Most of these
regionals that run from Washington to New York do run the whole route, the
whole corridor, all the way up to Boston.
Do we know if that was where 188 was ultimately going.
BLACKMAN: You know, Lawrence, that I don`t know. I think you`re right,
though. A lot of these regionals are going through Penn Station and head
to New York – and head to Boston, so I wouldn`t be surprised if this one
was doing the same.
O`DONNELL: All right, we`ll have the control room check on that. Because
the reason I`m asking, Jay, is because we now have families and friends all
over the Northeast Corridor, who are at home watching this, wondering if
they should be jumping in their cars in New Jersey or in New York of in
Connecticut, and driving down there to look for their family member who was
on that train, who may be standing there, having – and completely
uninjured, simply waiting to get out of there somehow.
BLACKMAN: I think their best bet in a lot of these situations, Amtrak will
set up a 1-800 number especially for families. I think their best bet
would be to check Amtrak`s Web site or check their Twitter feeds and see
status, in fact, happened.
Going to the scene is just going to complicate matters while first
offenders try to rescue those who have survived. In train accidents,
because the trains, as you can see in the video, get twisted, that can make
rescue even more difficult.
So, I think, fewer people that aren`t working at the scene are better off,
that everyone would be.
O`DONNELL: Well, Jay, we`ve been speaking to Janelle Richards, who`s a
producer with NBC Nightly News, who was on the train, and she had – she`s
been standing with the people who are OK, people who are uninjured, who are
off the train and, at this point, you know, in mid-journey to wherever they
were going, whether it be in New Jersey or New York or beyond.
And, as of 15 minutes ago, she had absolutely no information from anyone,
Amtrak or anyone on the scene, how these in transit passengers who are
ready to move on, how they`re going to be dealt with.
They are, as of 15 minutes ago, standing near, you know, train tracks in
Pennsylvania with no information.
BLACKMAN: Yes. I think with the – the first priority for first
responders is to get to them who are wounded and injured. And, I think, in
time, local police and fire will probably bring buses to help those who
have, not injured, probably make it back to either 50th Street Station or
on to New York.
The best bet is to sit tight and to stay in a safe place.
O`DONNELL: Why isn`t that Amtrak`s – Amtrak can`t do anything right now
to rescue any passengers. That`s obviously up to the first responders.
But Amtrak has responsibility to all of the responders. Why isn`t Amtrak
publicly saying, “We are taking care of this. We`re on this. We`ll have
an announcement about how we`re going to transport you.”
There are all of these families of all these passengers who are watching
this in the northeast right now. And, certainly, as we know on these
Amtrak trains, Jay, we see tourists from all over the world on these
We can have people in Europe right now wondering what`s happening to their
family members who might be on this train. Californians can have relatives
and friends traveling on these trains.
And Amtrak said absolutely nothing. As far as I know, they`ve tweeted, “We
are aware of the crash.”
BLACKMAN: Yes, they have. And that`s all I`ve seen from them on Twitter.
I`ve called into their public affairs people, as well.
My feeling is that they are likely in the process of trying to come up with
a plan to do just what you`re saying, is to help those who are not injured
and also to try to take care of those who are wounded and their needs.
O`DONNELL: Jay, why would they be trying to come up with a plan. Isn`t it
someone`s job at Amtrak to have a plan in place in the event of a
derailment, in the event of passengers stranded somewhere – “This is what
we do. This is our game that we go to. This is our two-minute drill that
puts everybody in motion right away.”
Why don`t they have that plan already in place.
BLACKMAN: Absolutely. The plan is in place. I think it`s a matter of
getting their staff and their personnel into involvement.
Just like the airlines, they are, in crashes, they are required to have
emergency and action plans in place. I think it`s just a matter of getting
people to the scene and getting that all started.
So, in this case, the first responders, the ones who already rushed to the
scene, will take that until Amtrak can get their people on the scene and
get this taken care of.
Obviously, Lawrence, first priority is to get to those who need medical
attention, and then deal with those who don`t need it quite yet.
O`DONNELL: But, Jay, Amtrak has absolutely no capacity to do anything for
the people who need medical attention. That`s the first responders in
Pennsylvania, who are obviously doing a great job.
We`re watching what they`re doing. Amtrak, these people running Amtrak,
have communicated absolutely nothing to any passengers about what`s going
to happen to them now as they stand out in the dark, in the middle of
Pennsylvania and the suburban Philadelphia, in mid-journey.
They`ve communicated absolutely nothing to their relatives. They`ve
communicated nothing to the – what must be thousands and thousands of
people who are wondering about friends and relatives who, they know, are on
that train or who might be on that train.
Not one word from Amtrak about what happens next for those people who are
BLACKMAN: Yes. And I think you are correct it`s their responsibility.
But, Lawrence, as you know, I can`t speak for them, so –
O`DONNELL: Jay, in your experience with Amtrak and dealing with
Amtrak, you know, public affairs, what is this silence about. We have an
hour and a half of absolute silence from them.
BLACKMAN: You know, Lawrence, I think that – I think that they`re just
trying to get their details and their teams together. This happened, you
know, about an hour ago.
But, again, I work for you. I don`t want to speak for them. I think that
they will do what they can do when they can do it. Honestly.
O`DONNELL: OK. I think we have Patrick Murphy still with us by phone.
MURPHY: I`m still here, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Yes, great, Patrick. Patrick, I`ve got to say, you know,
you`re a congressman, you`ve represented people who travel these trains
when you were in Congress.
If you were at home in Pennsylvania, watching this unfold, as a member of
Congress with, what now is approximately, 90 minutes of effective silence
from Amtrak about what they are doing for the passengers who need to be
moved, not to hospitals, but moved to somewhere to spend the night tonight,
whether that be in Philadelphia or buses supplied to them to get them on to
New York or wherever they`re going.
Those people are standing in the street there, watching ambulances pull
away. And they have absolutely no information about what happens to them
If you were sitting there as a member of Congress watching this, what would
you be doing.
MURPHY: You know, listen, I would absolutely be frustrated, Lawrence.
But not to play devil`s advocate, but I will tell you that those conductor
and the one woman who works for the cafe car for Amtrak, Ms. Bryan, they
got pretty banged up.
Both were definitely wobbly. But their first and immediate course of
action was to make sure that those passengers were OK directing them to –
you know, to stay calm.
And even Ms. Bryan who couldn`t – had trouble getting off the train, you
know, she was giving other people ice because she was – you know, that
thing was, you know, on its side and there she is trying to help other
people where she could barely stand herself.
But I hear you. If this was my – if this was my wife and I didn`t hear,
I`d be frustrated, which is why exactly, you know, once I realized that our
situation was relatively settled and I could hear the first responders come
in, I texted my wife and brother, “I`m on the train, I`m OK. Will call
So, you know, the last thing you wanted is your loved one not to know, so -
O`DONNELL: Yes, Patrick, don`t misunderstand my frustration with the
corporate Amtrak officers that have remained silent about this. The people
who work on those trains are fantastic.
I know a bunch of them and I see them from time to time on the trains. I
would expect them to respond the way you have reported that they need.
We`re joined now by Paul Cheung. He`s an “AP” photo journalist who was on
the train. Paul, where are you now.
PAUL CHEUNG, PHOTO JOURNALIST, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I`m in a bus on the way
to a hospital. They`re taking passengers to the hospital.
O`DONNELL: Are you injured, Paul.
CHEUNG: No, I`m OK, fortunately.
O`DONNELL: So, you are a passenger who`s uninjured and they`ve decided to
take you to the hospital. That`s what they`re moving you to from the
CHEUNG: They`re demanding all the passengers go to the hospital just for
O`DONNELL: Oh, so, they`re going to check you medically at the hospital,
CHEUNG: Possibly, but I don`t think I need it.
O`DONNELL: Yes. And so, you have – do you have any information about how
you`re going to be able to continue your journey toward New York.
CHEUNG: I`ve no clue at this moment.
O`DONNELL: And has anyone suggested to you that there`s a possibility of a
hotel accommodation for tonight or any kind of transportation somewhere
CHEUNG: No information is being given.
O`DONNELL: And, Paul, how many people are on that bus with you to the
CHEUNG: Right now, hold on, about 20 people.
O`DONNELL: Twenty. Is that 20 people who are uninjured or those –
CHEUNG: Yes. What they did is they tagged the passengers with different
colored tags. Some have green, some have red, some have yellow.
So, I suspect that`s by degree of injury.
O`DONNELL: And is green uninjured.
CHEUNG: Or very minor injury.
O`DONNELL: OK. Paul CHEUNG, thank you very much. Please let us know as
soon as you hear anything from anyone about what they have planned for the
passengers who are capable of continuing their journey.
We`re all in – have you been able to communicate with family and friends
that you`re OK, Paul.
CHEUNG: Yes, I have texted, Twittered and Facebooked to my friends and
family that I`m OK.
O`DONNELL: Oh, that`s great. That`s great. Paul, we`re glad to hear that
you`re OK. Paul Cheung, we really appreciate you joining us and explaining
that to us.
I want to go back to Patrick Murphy if he`s still with us. Patrick, can
you hear me. Lawrence O`Donnell here.
MURPHY: I hear you, Lawrence.
O`DONNELL: Yes, so, Patrick, we now know that the uninjured are being
brought to hospitals where they may be checked. But that`s the first stop
they`re bringing them to as they try to figure out where to take them the
rest of the way.
And there is, apparently, a press conference that`s being scheduled soon.
But we`re not exactly sure who`s going to be involved with that.
Patrick, are you going to stay on the scene there.
MURPHY: I`m going to stay on the scene. And we have the Deputy Mayor
that`s here I could see on-site, Councilman Bobby Henon, who`s a city
councilman from Northeast Philadelphia, and some – you know, smart,
official-looking folks now.
O`DONNELL: Patrick, thank you very much for you invaluable eyewitness
account in that incredible experience you went through. Thank you for
joining us and helping us understand all of this.
Patrick Murphy, thank you very much.
Our continued coverage now of what appears to be this crash, possibly
seriously – involving serious injury in Pennsylvania. Rachel Maddow will
take over the rest of the way with the live coverage.
United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed,
transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written
permission of CQ-Roll Call. You may not alter or remove any trademark,
copyright or other notice from copies of the content.>