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Live Coverage of Amtrak Train Derailment. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired May 13, 2015 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:12] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening. We are live tonight from Philadelphia, the devastating scene of last night's deadly Amtrak train derailment.

There are a lot of new developments to tell you about tonight. The train engineer has just been identified. We'll have more on that in a moment. The investigation is in the early stages but the NTSB said the train was going more than 100 miles per hour before the train jumped the rail. Now, that is more than twice the speed limit for the curve it was on when it derailed. The question that investigators will have to try to sort out now is why the train was moving that? What it was that went so horribly wrong last night?

Seven people right now confirmed dead. More than 200 people treated at area hospitals, at least half have been released. Amtrak northeast region number 188 had more than 200 people on board and many of these people took the train all the time from Washington D.C. to New York.

And over the next hour that we are live on the air, we will have the latest on the investigation. I will speak with survivors who have harrowing tales to tell about what they have experienced. People who made it out of the wreckage and trying to help others, some of them understandably still shaken up, some injured, all of them very lucky to have made it out of what clearly a chaotic scene. Take a look at video inside of the train that one passenger took.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She's crawling, OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Crawl forward, sir.


COOPER: In a moment, we'll hear from the governor of the state as well as the mayor of Philadelphia who said the city of brotherly love is heartbroken and has not experienced anything like this in modern time.

But first our senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin is with me here with the latest on the investigation. We are learning a lot more now about the engineer.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: At least who he is and this is a person who can answer a lot of questions as to why this train was going 106 miles per hour in a 50 mile-per-hour zone. His name is Brandon Bostian from Queens, 32-years-old. He's been with Amtrak now about nine years. The last 4.5 of those years, as an engineer. So he has some engineer experience here and apparently on this very line. It doesn't appear that he was hurt, Anderson. He was brought in for questioning. He supposedly gave a statement but when police detectives wanted to question him, he refused to answer their questions.

COOPER: So police, NTSB, they have not been able to actually interviewed him as far as we know at this point?



GRIFFIN: When the detectives brought him in, he came in with his attorney. He refused to answer questions. This is what we are hearing from the Philadelphia police. The NTSB says said have we interviewed him? They were little softer about this. They said he has been through a crisis -- well take a listen to what the NTSB said about trying to interview him.


ROBERT SUMWALT, NTSB MEMBER: Have we talked to the engineer? The answer to that is no, but we plan to. This person has gone through a traumatic event and we want to give him an opportunity to -- to convalesce for a day or so before we interview him. But that is certainly a high priority for us is to interview the train crew.


COOPER: We now know the train was going 106 miles per hour. The emergency brake was applied and that only brought it down to about what, 102?

GRIFFIN: Well, this is a train. It is going 106 miles an hour and the emergency brake was applied three seconds before the crash. So in those three seconds it dropped down to 102 miles per hour.

COOPER: And this is a curve that was supposed to only be taken at 50 miles per hour, the straight away before the curve, the speed at that was 80 miles per hour.

GRIFFIN: So there is no conceivable way you should travel at this speed at this stretch of track which is why they really need to speak to this engineer. Now, they are going to be looking a lot of other things, Anderson. You know, what was the engineer's physical demeanor? Was he asleep? Was he on the phone? Did he have anything in his system? Thos are things they look in any kind of --

COOPER: Do we know, has he been drug tested or blood tested?

GRIFFIN: I can only tell you from experience of other protocols, he most likely has been drug tested.

COOPER: OK. I will talk to authorities about that.

GRIFFIN: I'll talk to authorities about that.

But, you know, the other thing they are going to be looking at eventually, once you get all of the equipment out of the way, is the track, the signaling and all that. But all of it, according to experts we talked to points to one thing and that is the speed. Even if the track was bad, the speed made this much worse.

COOPER: And in terms of safety devices, there are safety devices in many parts of the country that would automatically slow this train down.

GRIFFIN: You know, I think that is the saddest part of the story. That the system you are talking about, it is positive train enforcement, you know, it is like a dead man' man's brake is what they call it in the train lingo. In case the driver of the train passes out, they could be able to shutdown the train, slow down the train. They have that positive control up and down this line. It would have prevented this accident according to NTSB. It just hasn't been placed on this portion of the track yet. It is going to be done mandated by Congress by this December. Bu obviously, too late for this to (INAUDIBLE).

[20:05:01] COOPER: And I know there is all raises to talk about. Congress have actually extending that deadline even further because of delays in putting this in. A lot to talk about with officials.

Drew, appreciate it. We are going to be on for the next two hours.

As I mentioned, the city of Philadelphia is rallying around obviously of the victims of this tragedy from the first responder to the fire departments to the police to everybody, everyday people who came out of nearby homes last night to give people bottles of water.

Philadelphia's Michael Nutter said the city will not rest until the research and recovery operation is completed and everyone is reunited with loved ones. And the mayor has been to the crash in a number of times. He has noted that when you that wreckage, it is amazing how many people survived. Mayor Nutter joins me now along with Pennsylvania governor, Tom Wolf.

I appreciate both of you being with me. I'm sorry it is under this circumstances.

First of all, in terms of things you have seen, what is it like over there?

MAYOR MICHAEL NUTTER, PHILADELPHIA: It is a devastating scene, the level of trauma and tragedy. Obviously, we have, you know, confirmed seven people have died and 200 plus were able to walk off the train. But again, I'm sure many people seen the video and the stills, the trains are mangled, they are upside down, they are way off their track. The engine separated from the rest of the cars. And I still don't understand -- I'm grateful and prayerful, I still don't understand how everyone was able to get off that train.

Police and fire for Philadelphia saved lives last night and the emergency care folks received, police officers, firefighters, refine tourniquets, getting people to hospitals and just getting them oriented, it is a traumatic kind of event. And the force that must have been going on, as of now all been talking 106 miles per hour on a 50 mile an hour radar curve. That level of force is going down an embankment and cars turning over possible turns. I can't imagine what those passengers go way and today, but we are very sorrowful for the lives that were lost.

COOPER: Governor, do you know has everyone been accounted for? Because it is obviously very chaotic situation. There is no, you know, just got someone buys a ticket for a train doesn't actually mean they are on the train. Do you have a sense that the numbers as they are, are that it is going to be?

GOV. TOM WOLF, PENNSYLVANIA: Well, I think we still have -- there are still some -- we have to learn more. We're not sure. But I'm here. Let me just say I'm here for two reasons. One, I want to pay tribute to the first responders, the mayor and his team. They've done tremendous job in responding to this terrible accident. The second thing is I'm here see if there is anything I can do to help as a representative of the commonwealth.

NUTTER: And the governor has tremendously hands on. He was here last night, drove down from New York, came (INAUDIBLE) and then I had to do some things and is back today. Has offered every state resource. The state police have been incredible.

COOPER: Can you explain the process, because it is a complicated process, it is just hard to figure out who was on the train and where is everybody?

NUTTER: Well, Amtrak has, you know, a manifest of the people who bought tickets. As any of us have experienced, sometimes you make a train, sometimes you don't. So then the question is of the people who bought tickets, how many were actually on the train? And then were there any other Amtrak personnel who may have gotten on the train. They don't necessarily buy tickets. They are, you know, going whenever they are going and they are on.

So it is a step by step, person by person process and getting descriptions, getting information, getting IDs from the post. Some people -- literally I saw them walking in the street last night, came off of that train, may have been transported by us or may have just gone on their business and we don't have an accurate account of what happened with them. So we are making phone calls. And so, we are narrowing it down.

COOPER: Have you search the -- because I know later on the day today, you sent out more officers to search the area. NUTTER: Yes, couple of hours ago, about 25 officers and supervisors

expanded the search. We also put their bikes out because there some wooded area there and we have tech one, our helicopter up. So we had three levels of search going on and expanded the search area. The purpose is, of course, again, with that trauma, the possibility that someone may have been ejected from the train and ended up somewhere else, not necessarily right near the train, is certainly a possibility. As I said earlier, we are not going to rest until we are assured that we've done everything we possibly can to locate every possible person that we think may have been on that train.

COOPER: Obviously a lot remains to be learned and the investigation is still in the early hours.


COOPER: You talked earlier about the conductor of the train, the engineer of the train, obviously authorities want to talk to him. What exactly is the status? Has he -- because there are conflicting reports that he gave a statement but then he didn't answer questions. Can you clear that up?

NUTTER: I can try. So he was injured, but -- and driving the train and survived his injuries, was received medical treatment and then was -- talked to the Philadelphia police department. What I don't know is what he said. And I usually don't know what a person may say in that kind of situation. I've heard the same stories about, you know, he may have said, well, I need a lawyer or I have a lawyer.

[20:10:12] COOPER: The chief of police said he didn't answer questions.

NUTTER: Right. So, you know, he talked to us and then possibly didn't answer questions. I mean, that is it. And that is all we know. And at that point we didn't have this information with regard to the speed and the other factors. I mean, NTSB is probably nowhere near done with their investigation. If there comes a point in time where they make certain decisions then the legal process may kick in. I'm not going to speculate on that.

COOPER: Do you know if he would have been blood tested automatically?

NUTTER: I do not know the answer to that question. Often, when someone presents as a trauma victim in a hospital may have been, but I don't know the answer to that question.

COOPER: And in terms of safety devices, I mean, and maybe it is too early to consider this, but there are safety devices that or in other part, I know they weren't on this part of the track, is that something, a, you -- either of you were aware of and is that something moving forward that you want to take another look at.

NUTTER: Well, I mean, until last night and today I never heard of this PTC device. But it is my understanding that the rest of this line is supposed to receive that kind of safety device by the end of this year. I don't know the timing on that. That is, you know, kind of an Amtrak federal railway administration kind of issue. The city is not engaged in that kind of work. All right, of us have responsibility to implement all kinds of systems and it becomes a timing issue or money issue. I don't know about that.

WOLF: I think the commonwealth -- we have been working on preventive measures to improve railway safety in general and that is something that we need to look at.

COOPER: Right. Governor, appreciate you being here. Thank you very much. Mayor Nutter. Thank you very much, sir.

There is a lot to talk about. I want to show you just some of the pictures of the train itself, the area that you see right there.

I also want to introduce you to Caleb Bonham. He was on the train last night. He joins me now.

Caleb, it is good to see you. First of all, how are you feeling?

CALEB BONHAM, SURVIVED DERAILMENT: A little banged up. But it is getting better. And I know that there are a lot of people that wouldn't walk away from the accidents and I feel very blessed for being able to.

COOPER: Where on the train were you and what you feel?

BONHAM: I was in the very last train. And for me, it was a very sudden incident. It started off with a little bit of shaky and I was sort of minding in my own business, living in my own world, listening to my ipod. I noticed that the computer was shaking a little bit.

COOPER: So you didn't actually hear anything? You were listening to music.

BONHAM: You know, I heard reports that people heard things. I have heard reports that people recognized like they heard a buckling sound, that they saw how fast the train was going. I was sort of just dazed off listening to my music, that sort of thing and all of the sudden, I felt a little bit of a shake and saw the computer kind of floating and I saw on the other side and then it was black.

COOPER: It was that quick?

BONHAM: To me, it was that quick.

COOPER: Did your car tip over?

BONHAM: So the last one was sort of it like three-degree angle at the very end. It was rattling around. And it felt like the entire time, when we were all inside of the train trying to figure out what was going on, trying to figure out how to get out, trying to assess the damage and then help anybody that was in need, it didn't felt like it could go over. And we didn't know if it was getting filled with smoke or if it was getting felt a dust. And so, it was very traumatic situation inside. But ultimately, you know, we saw a lot of people step up, recognized that there were people in need and there was a lot of people in train that sort of flocked to them. They were picking them all up. they were assisting them down the hallways. They were moving, you know, the chairs completely, disconnected from the base.

COOPER: Chairs were ripped out of the base.

BONHAM: They were ripped out of the base.

COOPER: So even though the car was only at three degree, it wasn't completely flipped over, still the chairs were ripped off?

BONHAM: Yes. There was significant damage. (INAUDIBLE). And so people were trying to determine, do we kick the windows out, how do we get out of this thing? And fortunately --

COOPER: And is it dark?

BONHAM: It was dark, yes. So from what I recall -- I can't recall where the light was coming from, but there was some light because I remember seeing silhouettes and eventually people were holding up their cell phones, pulling up the light there, trying to search for it.

But you know, absolute tragedy and we were very fortunate to be able to walk out. I've seen some very sad things. There were some young ladies on the train that have lost their teeth because of what happened. They were bloodied on the entire train. There was someone that were stuck on the ground and there was a group of people that were really trying to help them, lift these ladies up and so --

COOPER: Well I'm glad you are doing OK and tried to help others. Thank you, Caleb. Appreciate. Thanks, Caleb Bonham.

Just ahead, I'm going to speak with the NTSB's lead investigator and how they plan to figure out why the train was going so fast when it hit that curve. We want to find out more about that engineer and if and when he is going to be talking.

More survivor stories as well, passengers reaching out to help people they knew and those they didn't. I will speak with a woman whose son made sure that she was OK then went back to help others out of the wreckage.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so your car toppled over.

[20:15:01] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. We were in the last car and it was on the side, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was going through your mind at the time it was happening?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That this was a nightmare and it can't be happening.


[20:18:58] COOPER: Welcome back. Unbelievable pictures. We're live tonight from Philadelphia.

The breaking news, the engineer of the Amtrak train that derailed last night is identified as Brandon Bostian. He is from New York. He is 32 years old. He has been with Amtrak for nine years, four years as an engineer. We know that the engineer was hurt, received some sort of medical attention. But Philadelphia police official tells CNN the engineer refused to be interviewed and left with a lawyer. The NTSB will, of course, want to speak with him as investigators try to figure out what happened and why the train was traveling at 106 miles per hour right before it hit that curve, more than double the speed limit in the area.

Joining me now is Robert Sumwalt of the NTSB.

I appreciate you being with us. The engineer, on a case like this, is it correct to say that he has refused to answer questions?

ROBERT SUMWALT, NTSB MEMBER: Well we haven't even contacted him yet.



COOPER: That is a statement made by the Philadelphia police.

SUMWALT: Yes, we have not. And routinely, Anderson, we would not reach out to somebody that within 24 hours of an accident. We want to give them a chance to convalesce and get their thoughts together. Ideally, we like to interview somebody within a few days of the accident.

[20:20:04] COOPER: Something like a blood test, though, or a breathalyzer, is that something that you would ask the police to do or the police would automatically do?

SUMWALT: Yes. The carrier, in this case, Amtrak is actually required by federal law to conduct their assessment.

COOPER: So that would have automatically been done.

SUMWALT: That should have been done and I have no reason to believe it was not done.

COOPER: OK. At this point, it is very early hours, obviously, on this kind of investigation. Where are you? What are you doing now? Is the train still there? Has it already been moved? I know the track has been released to Amtrak.

SUMWALT: Yes. Most of the cars, all but two cars, two of the rail cars, have been moved. They have been moved to a secure facility so that we can conduct a detailed examination of those. The two remaining cars are there because we -- tomorrow we want to do a 3-D laser scan of that so that we can go back and study in it in right detail after we leave here.

COOPER: And in terms of recovery efforts, do you know -- has everybody been accounted for, who was on the train?

SUMWALT: You know, I don't want to sound impersonal because we care for everybody.


SUMWALT: That's right. We care for everybody but that is not our lane. We are the investigators for the accident and then the office of emergency management of Philadelphia will be the one that would be able to answer those questions.

COOPER: I'm not going to ask you speculate about what happened. But did the NTSB did come out and say 106 miles per hour, the train was travelling and the emergency brake was applied I think three or four seconds before the crash bringing it down to I think what, 102 miles per hour.

SUMWALT: That is right, yes.

COOPER: I mean, there are only a certain number of reasons why a train would be traveling that fast. It could be a runaway train. It could be an engineer not paying attention. The safety mechanisms which are in place elsewhere, it does not exist in this part of the track.

SUMWALT: That is right. And generically, that is called positive train control. Amtrak calls it ASIS (ph). That is the name of their --

COOPER: Is that something on the train itself or on the track itself?

SUMWALT: It is -- it depends whether or not it is the AC system or the positive train control system. PTC is what Congress has mandated by the end of this year to be installed. It is a GPS based system. So it knows where the train is and knows what the signals are signaling.

COOPER: And it can actually, if it was present here, it could actually automatically slow the train down.

SUMWALT: Absolutely. That's the intent of one of the four functions of positive train control is to prevent derailments due to over speed.

COOPER: We know a lot about how the (INAUDIBLE) works in -- with plane crashes, how do you go about -- I mean, what are the next steps for the next several days? I know your investigators are probably be on-site here for a week or so, but obviously investigation goes on a lot longer than that.

SUMWALT: It does indeed. And what I say that we are on scene for is to collect the perishable evidence. That's the information that can go away with the passage of time. Like the train cars, they are being move, the rail will be re-railed. Witness interviews or survivor interviews, those are things that can change over time. So we want to get here and collect as much of that as we can so that when we leave here in about a week, we'll either have what we need or have a plan for obtaining everything that we need.

COOPER: Is there a commonality with the train crashes that the NTSB investigates, I know you have investigated a number of them just in this year alone, is there -- are there common denominators or things that you particularly look for?

SUMWALT: Well, the accidents that we've seen this year, don't seem to have common denominators with this particular one. But on December 1st of 2013, there was a derailment with metro-north up in the Bronx and it was a situation where the train was going too fast into a turn and it derailed and claimed four lives. So there is commonality there. And the reason I mention that commonality is because positive train control will prevent that type of an accident and that is why the NTSB is so interested in and that's why Congress has mandated it.

COOPER: Mandated it for the end of the year. But there are some who have already pushing for the extension of that until 2020, I have read.

SUMWALT: There are efforts to extend that, various dates, various bills passing out there, 2017, 2018, 2020. There are couple of bill out there.

COOPER: It will be interesting to see if the accidents and the others this year of making the change of that.

Robert Sumwalt, I appreciate you taking the time.

SUMWALT: Anderson, it is great to be here. Thank you very much.

COOPER: I'm sorry it is under this circumstances.

SUMWALT: I agree. Thank you so much.

COOPER: Thank you very much.

Another perspective on what it is like to be in a train going at that speed and what it takes to stop it. We are going to take you inside a simulator next. Stick around.


[20:28:12] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In that moment when I was kind of tumbling, I mean, I really thought this might be the end. I mean, there is no way to know, like in the darkness. And so just being able to taste dirt was lovely because you knew you were alive and OK.


COOPER: We've been hearing from survivors all day about the chaos inside of the train as it went off the tracks and afterwards people's bags flying and people getting track in the wreckage (ph). We also want to take a look, though, at the mechanics of what it is to be like to try to stop a train at that speed.

CNN's Randi Kaye went to Illinois, got inside the train's simulator. And were is what she found out.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And so you train the engineers. So you know what they are going through, you know what they deal on a daily basis. Take us through right now what it would feel like going around a bend at about 50 miles per hour.

So you can -- I mean, you can tell what it feels like. It is pretty controlled, right? How would you describe it?

CHRIS SMUTNY, ENGINEER INSTRUCTOR, MODOC: Well, it's kind of like going from a sports car to a really big track, OK. In a sports car you have a sense of how fast you are going, once you get into a big track you may be going 50 miles per hour but it feels like only 40.

KAYE: So, this is 50 miles an hour, again, going around or approaching the bend at least, still very controlled.

So on this one, let's see. I want to go around a bend again and see what it feels like at 75-miles per hour. Just want to see the difference. So, this bend right now, we are going in -- we are already up to 66, I can see. So it is going to feel -- it already feels faster.


KAYE: I mean, I can already sense it, even though we're not moving, I can sense how fast we are going already.

[20:30:07] I want to know what it would feel like. We know this engineer apparently threw the emergency brake full force, all the way down. What would it feel like, what would we get a sense of if we did that right here at about 70 miles per hour?

SMUTNY: I'll show you.

KAYE: So that is full force on the brakes at just 60 miles per hour and we're still going?

SMUTNY: Yes. Yes, that is just -- you can't apply the brakes any harder than that.

KAYE: And it still doesn't stop automatically. It takes some time. No matter what speed you're going.

SMUTNY: Yes, a fully loaded freight train, and average per train which is roughly 80, 85 cars, takes over a mile to stop in an emergency.

KAYE: So now let's take it around the bend as fast as you can go. You say this train that derailed might have been going around 106 miles per hour. We'll see what this one does. SMUTNY: We'll see how close we can be.

KAYE: So we're going so fast we're going to derail right here.

SMUTNY: Yes, right around that curve right there.

KAYE: So explain that. Why would it derail?

SMUTNY: Why it derails is because there is so much force when you are going around that curve, that that locomotive becomes top heavy, and it just rolls over. There's too much centrifugal force for it to stay on.

KAYE: And all the people inside described laptops falling and people falling on top of them and even one woman described a couple of people above her got stuck in the luggage rack, does that surprise you going around a bend at that speed?

SMUTNY: Not at all. We were only going 72.5, so it -- yes, you add 30 more miles an hour to that, there is a lot of force there. People will be thrown around.


COOPER: And Randi joins us now from outside that simulator. The instructor told you that it takes about a mile to stop after the engineer applied the brakes, so does he think the engineer of this train crash, I mean, I guess you'd think he didn't even have a chance to really make any impact, any lessening of the speed before the impact?

KAYE: Absolutely, Anderson. He doesn't think he had a chance. He said you need about 30 seconds or at least a mile after applying the brakes for that train to slow down. And he said if what the NTSB said is true and the engineer in this case applied those brakes just moments before entering that curve, our instructor said there is no way he would have had time. He certainly wouldn't have had those 30 seconds or that mile to get to that safe speed. And another thing, Anderson, that surprised him. He said he would be really surprised if the engineer in this case didn't see that upcoming curve, he said, because on a clear night, you can see those railroad signals, which he says are so bright, you can see them for up to ten miles. He told me that he'd seen that with his own eyes, and especially if you are going down a straight track, you can see where that bend would start. You can see how the lights begin to curve. So if he didn't see that, he's wondering why, was it weather, was it heavy fog, was it bad rain, was it something else? Still so many questions, Anderson, even for the experts tonight.

COOPER: Yes, and that is why they want to hear from that engineer. Randi, I appreciate that.

Last night's derailment has disrupted travel across the entire region from Washington all the way to Boston with service suspended at a crucial point in the northeast corridor. The ripple effect is huge, leaving travelers and commuters scrambling, obviously. Joe Johns has the latest on that.


JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Tonight, there are crippling spillover effects for travelers all over the eastern United States, who were hoping to ride along Amtrak's northeast corridor, but had to find alternative transportation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is five or six hours here and the station is full, it is packed.

JOHNS: People standing in line after line after line, waiting for hours, stranded but hoping they are lucky enough to get the next bus, train or flight home.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I knew my commute back home would be chaotic, so that's what I'm here in line right now, to find out how I'm supposed to get back home.

JOHNS: Amtrak's northeast corridor is the busiest in the country, carrying passengers between Washington, D.C. and Boston. Today trains between Philadelphia and Manhattan are suspended. A delay on this line is a major disruption for the region. The northeast corridor hosts 11.6 million riders a year, 750,000 trips per day, and more than 2,000 trains total, including freight. Today that's all come to a halt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really annoying, because I wish they told me last night because I could have dealt with it.

JOHNS: Passengers scrambled aboard buses, quickly selling out. Not a single ticket left on the boat (ph) bus, traveling from DC to New York. Lines for Megabus and Greyhound buses stretched long as the companies announced they would honor Amtrak tickets.

CHARLES WORMLEY, GREYHOUND: We are running as many buses as we possibly can put together.


JOHNS: Commercial airlines also tried to pick up some of the slack. At Washington's Reagan National Airport, Delta Airlines reports an increase in bookings. American Airlines added two roundtrip flights between D.C. and New York in order to handle the increased demand. Even with all this, the delays and difficult travel pale in comparison to what the victims suffered on the train that crashed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: People died, and we're inconvenienced a little bit -- it is okay.


COOPER: It is good to keep that in perspective. Joe Johns joins us from outside Union Station in Washington, D.C. where this train originated from. Joe, I just talked to the NTSB who said there are two of the cars, the train cars still on the tracks, they are going to do more testing on them tomorrow. Any word on when service between Philly and New York will resume?

JOHNS: Anderson, about the only thing Amtrak has been able to figure out thus far is what they are going to do on Thursday, and what they say they're going to do on Thursday is modified Amtrak service, with what they call fewer frequencies between here and Philadelphia, no service of course on the tracks between Philadelphia and New York. And modified service with fewer frequencies between New York and Boston. So they say the investigation has to continue, and they have asked people for patience, but no, they don't know what they are going to do past Thursday, and that means perhaps more discomfort for travelers, Anderson.

COOPER: Joe, I appreciate the update. Thank you.

Just ahead, I'll talk to a mom and son who survived the crash with minor injuries, thankfully. After making sure his mom was safe, Max Helfman went back to the wreckage to help other passengers, and he is one of the people we've heard who did just that. We'll talk about what it was like in the thick of the chaos just ahead.



COOPER: We've talked to people who were on board Amtrak train 188, and they said disaster struck in what seemed like an instant. We now know the train was going more than 100 miles per hour, when seven cars and the engine derailed. In the chaos that followed, some reached out to help strangers. One of them was a man named Max Helfman. He and his mom Joan survived the crash, thankfully, with minor injuries. After helping his mom to safety, Max went back to the wreckage to help other passengers. Max and Joan both join me now. First of all, both, how are you feeling?

MAX HELFMAN: We're hanging in there. It has been a long 24 hours as you can imagine, but we're hanging in there.

JOAN HELFMAN: Neither of us has slept for about 36 hours now. A little sore, but we're alive and very thankful.

COOPER: Yes. And Max, I understand you were in one of the rear cars of the train. If you can, if you don't mind, take us through what happened. I understand everything was going fine until obviously that train started to take the turn?

M. HELFMAN: Yes. Um, everything was going fine, and all of a sudden for about two seconds, our car started to shake and before you knew it, we were all flung up against the window, our car was on its side, and everyone was on the ground. And when the car finally stopped, I got up and the car was smoking, so everyone's first thought was this car might explode, so let's get everyone out of here. And there was a door with -- it was open about eight inches. And it was enough room to squeeze people through it. So the first priority was obviously to get my mom safe, so I got her out, and looking around the car, I saw that there were so many people in much worse condition than I was. I was up, I was able to walk. So I just did what I could to get people out of that car.

COOPER: And Joan, did you notice the speed of the train at all prior to the crash? Did it seem like it was going fast? Because some people have said they felt like it was going too fast?

J. HELFMAN: I didn't feel that way. It was moving. I didn't notice any difference then, you know, from the speed we were traveling before, no.

COOPER: I understand that when it derailed, Joan, you went flying and actually flying toward your son, is that right?

J. HELFMAN: I went flying towards the windows in the side of the car that was going down, and we were sitting in the front so there were many large pieces of luggage that -- one hit my chest, one hit my head, I was covered with all of this luggage when my son found me.

COOPER: What is going through your mind in a situation like that? Joan, is it happening so fast that you don't think, or can you tell me what it's like?

J. HELFMAN: It was very scary, but I think I started to panic a little bit, but my son just kept calling my name, and he found me. He got me out. And made sure that I got out of the train, and then I could focus better and to see if I could help others as well.

COOPER: And that is when you went to help others. What was the scene like for you?

M. HELFMAN: Um, I mean, people were everywhere. There were suitcases everywhere. Suitcases falling on top of people. The chairs had actually dislodged and some of the chairs had actually fallen on people. People bleeding from their faces, broken bones, with broken legs, broken arms, anything you can really imagine, that is what happened.

COOPER: Well, I'm so glad that both of you are okay, and I hope you get some rest -- much-needed rest, and thank you for all you did. And I'm sure there are a lot of people that would like to thank you for reaching out to help others in their time of need. Joan and Max Helfman, thank you.

J. HELFMAN: Thank you so much, Mr. Cooper.

M. HELFMAN: Thank you.

COOPER: As we said, authorities have not ruled out the possibility of finding more victims at the crash site. You heard from the mayor earlier, he sent more police officers out to survey the region.


20-year-old Justin Zemser (ph) was a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy. He was heading home to New York to visit his family. 48- year-old Jim Gaines (ph) worked for the Associated Press. He was returning home from Washington. He is survived tonight by his wife and two children. Rachel Jacobs, a chief executive of a small tech company, leaves behind a husband and a 2-year-old son. Abby Gilani (ph) was a senior vice president at Wells Fargo's hospitality finance group.

Some families are still waiting for word about their loved ones at this very moment. Among the missing is Bob Gildersleeve (ph), a sales executive who lives outside of Baltimore with his wife and two teenage children. More than 200 people were injured in the crash. They were taken to local trauma centers, including Temple University Hospital where Dr. Cushing is the chief medical officer. He joins me now. Dr. Cushing, thank you for being with us. When something like this happens, late at night, early in the morning like this, or I guess late at night, how many patients do you have coming to Temple?

DR. HERB CUSHING, TEMPLE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL: Yes, we had 54 patients come to Temple within a couple of hours, Anderson. Sometime between a little after 10:00 and midnight, there were 54 patients. The biggest issue was the rush of the patient flow at once.

COOPER: So you had to call in people.

CUSHING: So there's a trauma team at Temple University Hospital all of the time. It's a level one trauma center, but a single team was not enough to handle this, so we had to call people in. So I rushed in from home. Trauma surgeons rushed in from home.

COOPER: And level one trauma is obviously the worst possible trauma, so you're equipped to deal with all of that.

CUSHING: That is right. Yes, the highest level. Yes.

COOPER: What sort of -- we're just hearing from the (inaudible), we've heard from people obviously with broken bones, people being hit by luggage, people being thrown from one car to another. You've seen all manner of trauma?

CUSHING: Yes. Most of the injuries were rib fractures, which surprised me. We saw only one skull fracture patient. I thought we'd see many more patients with injured heads, but there were a lot of rib fractures, which was surprising. Lots of leg and arm fractures. The patients that died with us, Mr. Gaines, had a chest injury.

COOPER: And obviously you are used to seeing trauma, but to see this number of people all of a sudden has just got to be --

CUSHING: That is unusual. And that is why level one trauma centers like Temple train for this. We purposely prepare for an influx of patients all at once, which is what happened last night.

COOPER: And you have got to triage and figure out the most immediate cases. And serve those first.

CUSHING: There were many folks that really weren't terribly ill. They were sprained, they were confused and dazed, but when they were evaluated, they actually were OK. We treated and released about half of the patients. And 25 of the patients were admitted and were taken care of. Three went into the operating room right that night, and then there were still eight (inaudible) today.

COOPER: It's just incredible. There's obviously a lot of talk about what safety precautions moving forward, should there be seatbelts on trains and things like that, but I guess until that kind of thing happens, you don't realize how quickly a train is moving and what that kind of speed can do.

CUSHING: The patients who I could talk to who were awake and could talk to me were all folks who were in the back of the train, which in retrospect makes sense, because that was the part that did not fare as badly.

COOPER: It seemed like that cart didn't tip over all the way as many of the others certainly did.

CUSHING: Right, and they described it as happening in a split-second, and still people landed on them and luggage landed on them, and when they were injured, they were injured because of folks falling on them.

COOPER: It also seemed like even seats were ripped out of their mooring. So people if they had been seatbelted in, that might not have been enough.


COOPER: We heard a lot of cases of people with teeth that were broken, did you see that as well?

CUSHING: No. We didn't see that. No.


COOPER: Well, I appreciate all of you here, the doctors and nurses at Temple, thank you so much.

CUSHING: Thank you.

COOPER: Thank you for all of your hard work. There were a lot of folks who have been working incredibly hard over the last 24 hours, not just the police officers, the investigators behind me, doctors and nurses at hospitals all around. And obviously investigators as well. A grandmother shares what it was like inside the train just moments after the wreck. That is next.




UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When I started hearing people I was on the side, and someone told me I was delirious. They carried me off. My shoes are not my shoes. I lost my shoes. And a lady gave me her shoes.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: As we said, more than 200 people were injured in the Amtrak derailment. We have been sharing some of the stories of survival with you tonight. I want to give you another one right now. Our Gary Tuchman caught up with a New Jersey woman who was on the train. She often travels the northeastern corridor to see her young grandson in Maryland. Last night, she was about halfway home, relaxing in a quiet car that suddenly erupted in screams. Here is Gary's report.


GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol Cissel spent the night in a Philadelphia hospital. She spent this day grateful to be alive.

CAROL CISSEL, TRAIN CRASH SURVIVOR: I don't know what was going to happen.

TUCHMAN: Carol boarded the Amtrak train in New Carrollton, Maryland, after visiting her daughter, son in law and her first grandchild who just turned one. She was heading back home to New Jersey. A train trip this newly ordained minister has made virtually every week since her grandson was born.

CISSEL: It started out routine. It was like a regular Tuesday night. I got on the train, I got my seat in a quiet car, I took my yogurt, I opened my iPad. And for quite a while it was a regular ride, and then it went crazy.

TUCHMAN: She had fallen asleep in the third car when a jolt woke her up her, then a loud noise, and then it felt like the train fell off a cliff.

CISSEL: We were upside down and sliding. And people were screaming. And it was incredibly awful. They are not supposed to go upside down.


When we fell, there was yelling like no, oh, and then it was really quiet. All of the noise stopped and it was really quiet, and people realized they were really hurt, and it was pandemonium.

TUCHMAN: Carol's head was hit from the impact. A doctor would ultimately tell her she had suffered a concussion, but other people in her car and her row were hurt much.

CISSEL: And I tried to get up and I pushed off the lady that was next tome, and she said don't, it hurts, and somehow I was able to get my feet out, and amazingly, like I stood up, and I looked around, and someone said I have a phone, I found a phone, there was a picture of the baby on the phone, and it was my phone.

TUCHMAN: It was your grandson.

CISSEL: It was my grandson.

TUCHMAN: Carol took her phone and called her daughter Yvonne from the train. YVONNE BUTTERS, DAUGHTER: I just was shocked. And she said to me, it rolled over. It flipped over.

CISSEL: It was to the point where to get out, we went up and out a window. So the windows were above us to get out of the car. It was almost all the way upside down.

TUCHMAN: Carol helped a pregnant woman get out, and wishes she could have helped others, but they were stuck in the wreckage. She doesn't know what happened to the seriously injured woman next to her.

CISSEL: You are not supposed to turn upside down, and when you look back at it, it is amazing that you walked away.


COOPER: It is amazing that so many people were able to walk away. Did she get a sense the train was speeding? Some people said they had no idea and others said they did feel that.

TUCHMAN: Well, prior to the derailment, she didn't know it was speeding because she fell asleep, but the second she heard the noise and then the train started tumbling, she said the sensation was like it was sailing. She thinks it was a function of the speed.

I mentioned in the story that her grandson is her life, and every week, she takes Amtrak to and from New Jersey to Maryland and back, and before that, for years, she had been taking it twice or three times a month. So she's an Amtrak veteran, and I asked her, can you get back on that train now? And she said I don't know the answer to that question.

COOPER: A lot of people are going to be asking themselves that question. Gary, appreciate it, thank you. Our coverage from Philadelphia continues through the next hour. We have more stories of survival and also we remember those who lost their lives. We'll also have details on the engineer who was driving the train, and we'll look at the safety questions raised after this accident. There is a lot ahead to cover. We'll be right back.