Amtrak derailment witness helped victims right after crash: 'We held their hands'

PHOTO: An aerial shot captures the wreckage of a train derailment in Washington state, Dec.18, 2017.PlayKOMO
WATCH Passenger on derailed train said he curled into a ball praying for the train to come to a stop

Daniel Konzelman, and his girlfriend, Alicia Hoverson, were among the first on the scene after an Amtrak train derailed traveling along an overpass in Washington state.

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Konzelman, 24, told ABC News that he and Hoverson, 23, were headed to work in Olympia when they saw train cars topple off the overpass, smashing into a semi-truck and several other vehicles on the road below.

Amtrak Cascades train 501 was taking its inaugural run down a new route today outside of Tacoma, Washington. It was carrying at least 84 passengers and crew members.

PHOTO: Daniel Konzelman and his girlfriend Alicia Hoverson were driving to work Dec. 18, 2017 when they came across a fatal Amtrak train derailment in Washington state. Konzelman said he and Hoverson got out of their car to help the injured. Daniel Konzelman
Daniel Konzelman and his girlfriend Alicia Hoverson were driving to work Dec. 18, 2017 when they came across a fatal Amtrak train derailment in Washington state. Konzelman said he and Hoverson got out of their car to help the injured.

Konzelman said he parked his car on a highway on-ramp as quickly as he could, and he and Hoverson headed toward the scene of the accident. He told ABC News that people were staggering out of the train cars as the couple approached.

"Alicia and I met them as fast as we could, made sure that they were OK, made sure that they weren't bleeding out and escorted them down to the freeway," where first responders could reach them, he said.

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PHOTO: Alicia Hoverson is seen in this undated photo. Alicia Hoverson
Alicia Hoverson is seen in this undated photo.

"We moved down to the trains that were more seriously damaged that had flipped upside down, and luckily I had brought a headlamp with me from my car, because the trains were all dark, and there was a lot of wreckage, and some of them were upside down or the roofs were caved in," Konzelman said.

He said he and Hoverson climbed inside the trains and moved wreckage out of the way to find passengers who might be stuck inside. As they went through train cars one by one, he said they came across a train attendant who appeared to have serious back injury. Konzelman said he couldn’t move so they stayed with him, covering him with a blanket, until others arrived.

The two eventually made their way to a train car where he said it appeared people had died. The car had flipped upside down, burst open and pinned the passengers underneath the train, Konzelman said.

PHOTO: Cars from an Amtrak train lay spilled onto Interstate 5 below as some remain on the tracks above, Dec. 18, 2017, in DuPont, Wash. Elaine Thompson/AP
Cars from an Amtrak train lay spilled onto Interstate 5 below as some remain on the tracks above, Dec. 18, 2017, in DuPont, Wash.

"We climbed underneath the train as best we could, and there was people, like, with half their bodies pinned who couldn't move and were in a lot of pain. A lot of them were screaming and moaning, but there was nothing we could do to help them really, so we just stayed with them, we held their hands, we talked to them, we rubbed their backs, tried to get them to just relax and try to be a comfortable as they could," he said.

Konzelman, an Eagle Scout who said he knew a lot about first aid and being a first responder, tried to prepare himself mentally before entering the train cars today, he said today.

PHOTO: Emergency crews respond to the scene of a train derailment in Washington state, Dec. 18, 2017. Washington State Police
Emergency crews respond to the scene of a train derailment in Washington state, Dec. 18, 2017.

"I knew right away that this was a major accident, that there was probably going to be some pretty, pretty graphic fatalities and injuries, so I prepared myself for the worst going in -- and I hoped for the best -- and there was both," he said. "There was some things that I hope nobody ever has to see. ... I’m so grateful I got to be there because I know that if I was in that situation, I would want somebody to help me."