DOBBIN (CBS13) — New pictures have come to light of the terrifying moments after a big rig plowed into an Amtrak train headed for Sacramento.
A local survivor tells CBS13 that she should have been on the train car crushed by the big rig, but a last-minute decision saved her life.
A picture worth a thousand words, but it’s the story 76-year-old Emagene Smith has to tell that truly brings to life the chaos and terror of the Amtrak train crash.
“It was horrible. The fireball came down the side of the train and it immediately crystallized on the windows,” said Emagene.
On her way home from Michigan, Smith was on the second to last car.
“I heard this explosion. I’m telling you I thought it was like a bomb went off,” said Emagene.
She grabbed her camera hanging on the door.
“The chef, he jumped out the window. I guess he came to see what happened. He said: ‘It’s gone it all gone’,” she said.
Outside, it was pure chaos.
“This man was bleeding, he was holding his head,” she said.
The injured were lying on the ground alongside those who didn’t make it.
“They were just lying like this in the desert,” she said.
It was only then that Emagene realized what had happened. She snapped pictures of what was a truck. Its cab was now just debris scattered across the tracks.
“The only thing that was left was the two trailers; you couldn’t event tell it was a truck,” said Emagene.
The driver was lying in the middle of it all — killed by the impact.
“I feel a lot of sorrow for people that died, ones that were injured. It was terrible, terrible,” she said.
Back in her Northern California home, Emagene says she also feels very lucky, lucky because of a last-minute decision she says may have saved her life.
“At the last minute I decided to get a berth, otherwise, like I said, I would have been in the first two cars,” said Emagene.
It’s been three days since the crash and Emagene says she’s still trying to find out when she’ll get the luggage she was forced to leave on the train.